Turkish military officers training in Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Turkish military officers are in Israel to train to operate Israeli military technology, despite a breakdown in relations between the two countries.

A delegation of more than 20 Turkish officers and soldiers arrived Tuesday in Israel for a two-week stay, the Turkish English-language newspaper Daily Zaman reported.

The Turks will test and learn to operate the Heron unmanned aerial vehicle and bring back four to Turkey as part of a 10-drone, $180 million contract inked in 2004.

Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems Ltd., which manufacture the drones, ordered back to Israel engineers and flight instructors working with the Turkish military to teach them how to operate the Heron in the days following Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla that led to the deaths of nine passengers, all Turks.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since the monthlong Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09. The deaths on the Turkish-flagged ship Marmara have led to Turkey recalling its ambassador to Israel and the suspension of 16 bilateral agreements between the two countries.

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