On July 18 Israeli warships hold a “planned” exercise which lasted two hours in the Aegean. The exercise included the use of live ammunition off Greece’s Aegean island of Milos at the firing range “Karavia” in Myrtoo Sea.
We say “planned”, simply because it coincided with the visit of the Chief of the Hellenic Navy in Israel last week, while the desire of Israelis to conduct naval exercises in the Aegean had first been expressed last year. But since then the request was pending. This case was however special because only Israeli warships conducted the exercise without any Greek participation.
This does not diminish the importance of the exercise, but only in the broader context of Greek-Israeli cooperation, and not in other dimensions that some usually try to give. Such exercises are conducted regularly by the Israeli armed forces in order to become more familiar with environments that do not normally have the opportunity to practice, in this case an archipelago. Israeli ships also sailed in international waters of the Aegean Sea, making navigation exercises in the past.
The first exercise with the entrance of two Israeli naval vessels in Greek territorial waters, a Sa’ar 5 class corvette and a large Sa’ar 4.5 class missile boat also included firing live ammunition at the firing range.
Regarding the Greek-Israeli cooperation the attempt to gain lost ground, after the Greek transitional government service, has not yet begun, though according to some information a visit at a Foreign Minister level is expected.