IDF Chief: Israel's Military Ties With Turkey Still Strong

Despite the diplomatic fallout from Israel's deadly raid on a Turkish flagged aid ship, IDF cooperation with Anakara intact, Gabi Ashkenazi tells Knesset.

Military ties between Israel and Turkey remain strong, despite recent high-profile diplomatic tensions, Israel's army chief said on Tuesday.

Revealing that he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart following Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla a month ago, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that despite a near-collapse in government relations with Ankara, Israel's military alliance with Turkey was intact.

Ashkenazi told the Knesset's foreign affairs and security committee that he had held discussions with Turkish General Ilker Basbug following Israel's May 31 commando raid on a Turkish-flagged ship, which left nine activists nationals dead.

The top commander added that IDF Major General Sami Turgeman had met his Turkish counterpart, expected to succeed Basbug as Turkey's military chief, in Europe a few days ago. Ashkenazi stressed the importance of maintaining joint security activities with Turkey, especially in light of warnings that more ships are due to arrive in the area.

He noted that Basbug had contributed the opening article to the June issue of IDF magazine 'Maarachot', saying this was further proof that ties between the countries armies remained close.

In a prologue to the essay, Ashkenazi sought to highlight the importance of international cooperation in tackling terrorism.

Turkish General Ilker Basburg
IDF Spokesman

He wanted to acquaint readers with "the elements of a presentation given by my colleague, the Turkish chief of staff, during a NATO conference in Ankara devoted to the subject of international terrorism", he wrote.

He wrote: "The general's overview highlights the importance of international cooperation in the struggle against terrorism and reflects the vast experience Turkey has amassed over dozens of years of fighting terrorism, particularly against the [Kurdish] PKK."