19 July 2012 /TODAY’S ZAMAN
Israeli ships held a live-fire shooting exercise for the first time in the Aegean Sea, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday. The crew of the Sa’ar 5 and Sa’ar 4.5 Israeli warships held a shooting exercise with real bullets near the Greek island of Hydra, which is in Greek territorial waters and only two hours by ship from the Greek capital of Athens.
Following worsening relations between Turkey and Israel after the Mavi Marmara incident in which eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed by Israeli forces, Greek and Israeli armed forces have been conducting joint military exercises for the past two years. However, Greece is not participating in this most recent exercise as it signed a moratorium with Turkey in 1998 in which both countries agreed not to conduct military maneuvers in the Aegean Sea between June 15 and Sept. 15 of every year.
The Greek Cypriot parliament ratified a defense and military cooperation agreement with Israel earlier this month, opening the way for military arms trade between Greek Cyprus and Israel.