The Israeli navy confirmed
on Thursday that it has participated in a US-led exercise with Pakistan, Saudi
Arabia and some other countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the
Jewish state.

The US Navy said in a
statement that more than 9,000 people from 60 militaries took part in the
International Maritime Exercise (IMX), which kicked off on Jan 31.

The participants included
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen who do not
have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Several countries with
which Israel recently normalised relations — such as the United Arab Emirates
and Bahrain — also participated. Bahrain is a close US ally and hosts the 5th
Fleet of the US Navy.

The biennial drill was
launched in 2012 and has become “the largest multinational naval exercise in
the Middle East,” the US Navy said.

The Israeli media reported
that this was Israel’s first participation in a military exercise with
countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the state.

Israeli Navy chief David
Salama said in a statement that their participation in the American exercise
“demonstrates the strengthening connection between our fleets, based on power,
mutual learning, and strategic partnership”.

The Israeli Navy, he said,
was “working together with our American partners to prevent terror in the
maritime arena and to strengthen the security of the region’s waters”.

The head of the US 5th
Fleet, Admiral Brad Cooper, who over the past month has met with Mr Salama,
Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, also hailed
the growing ties between the two navies.

“This joint exercise
demonstrates our determination to protect international law and order. This is
a special opportunity to expand our interoperability as we strengthen our naval
ties,” Mr Cooper said.

In November, the Israeli
Navy participated in a 5th Fleet-led exercise in the Red Sea, alongside the UAE
and Bahrain in what Israeli officials said was “meant to serve as a response to
recent attacks by Iran against Israeli naval assets,” the Israeli media reported.


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