Israeli, Greek and US warships are undertaking a joint two-week Mediterranean naval exercise codenamed Noble Dina, the Israeli military said. The event is part of the security cooperation between the Israeli navy and foreign naval forces,” a statement said.
Israel’s military sees it “as an opportunity for mutual learning and for strengthening of the cooperation with its allies,” Agence-France-Presse reportedf.” For several years, Israel and the US carried out naval maneuvers with Turkey, but in September 2011 Ankara expelled Israel’s ambassador and suspended military cooperation with the Jewish state.
Once-warm ties had reached a low point after Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla in the Mediterranean in May 2010, killing nine Turks on board. Relations with traditionally pro-Arab Greece have been warming in the meantime, with Israel joining it in naval and air exercises.
Greece has been moving closer to Israel and is seeking its assistance with traditional Greek ally Cyprus to develop offshore gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. Media reports said that last year’s Noble Dina’s exercise was designed in part to practice defending offshore gas rigs.
In November, Israeli and US troops concluded a major missile defense exercise lasting more than three weeks and involving 3,500 personnel from the US European Command and 1,000 Israeli troops. Israeli military sources said their navy had recently carried out maneuvers with the Italian and Canadian navies, but did not elaborate.