PARIS (Apr. 30)
Palestinian air and ground crews carrying Abu Dhabi passports are being trained at a French air base near the city of Dijon. French officials say “all we know is that these people carry genuine Abu Dhabi passports” and privately add that “one Arab is for us as good as another. How can we tell the difference?” The French are not prepared to reveal the size of the group now under-going intensive training on the 36 Mirage planes sold to the oil-rich state.
Jewish inhabitants of Dijon told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that several of the trainees told them they are Palestinians. The crews live on the French base but often come into town. They generally prefer to shop at Jewish owned shops, especially by those run by Jews of North African origin.
Several of these Jewish tradesmen say the trainees said they are being sent for advanced air training as part of “the Arab support for our cause.” They reportedly said they will serve with the Abu Dhabi Air Force but will be free to “serve Palestine when the time comes.”
The planes sold to Abu Dhabi are reportedly equipped with night vision accessories and can carry air to air and air to ground French made missiles. Several of the planes are two-seaters which can be used both for training purposes but also for low flying ground support missions.