TEL AVIV (Sep. 23)
The United States has presented Israel with a gift of 24 Apache assault helicopters, according to an exclusive report in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.
The report was based on an interview granted the paper by the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, and was accompanied with a photograph of the arrival of one of the helicopters.
The paper said the Apaches were promised Israel by former President Bush shortly before last November’s U.S. presidential elections and that they were delivered on Sept. 13 — the day Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed their historic accord at the White House.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Thursday that 24 Apaches had been given to Israel.
But he could not confirm that the delivery had taken place Sept. 13, nor could he confirm the 24 helicopters had all been delivered at once.
He said that the delivery of the Apaches had nothing to do with the peace initiative between Israel and the PLO.
With the new shipment, the Israeli air force now has two squadrons of Apaches, regarded as among the best assault helicopters in the world.