Saturday, December 26, 2009
Greek admiral's visit signifies deepening military ties with Israel
The strategic and military ties between Greece and Israel are deepening in reverse proportion to Turkey's estrangement from Israel and its growing closeness to Iran and Syria, DEBKAfile's military sources report. Significantly, when the commander of the Greek Navy, Vice Admiral G. Karamalikis secretly visited Israel earlier this month, he won the sort of red carpet which the Israel Defense Forces high command rarely gives foreign military visitors. Israeli Navy chief Vice Adm. Eli Marum took him around Navy HQ in Haifa port plus unusual tours of the top-secret INS Dolphin Type 800 submarine and the Saar V class INS Eilat 501 corvette.
The Dolphin is ranked as Israel's premier long-distance deterrent weapon and believed by Western military experts to carry nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
The Eilat was part of the Israeli submarine's escort when it passed through the Suez Canal last June, starting out from the Mediterranean and heading to the Red Sea and back. Vice Adm. Marum accompanied the visitor and briefed him on the navy's operational capabilities.
This demonstration focused on the vessels Israel has thrust to the fore in the last two years for Iran's benefit, to display the extent of its long-distance military reach as far as Iran's shorelines, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.
The military partnership between Israel and Greece is not new. In June 2008, their two air forces and navies conducted a joint war game, during which 100 Israeli fighter-bombers flew out from their bases as far as Greek skies and back, spanning a distance roughly equal to that between Israel and Iran. The exercise was meant to show Tehran the Israeli Air Force's ability to cover the distance to Iran's nuclear facilities and back. According to Western military sources, the maneuver included practice sorties by Israeli warplanes against Russian-made S-300 anti-missile missile batteries deployed by the Greek Army.