In the wake of the tragic crash that is believed to have claimed the lives of seven airmen, Israel Air Force Col. (res.) Eliezer “Cheetah” Cohen hinted Tuesday at the reasons why IAF helicopters were training in the mountains of Romania.
"I do not want to speculate but I will let your imagination clock some extra hours,” Cohen told Benny Tucker of Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service, who asked him what the IAF helicopters were doing in Romania. “Take the radius from Israel to Romania; take the altitude of the mountains; look around to find where there is a similar radius, and mountains of that height and even a bit higher – and you will find out what kind of training they were working on and why – and it is extremely important for the security of the State of Israel.”
"Were it not for the accident we would not know how much these crews are giving their heart and soul, training and working hard. The IAF and the entire IDF are preparing very well for what is about to come.”
Cohen, who was a Knesset member for Israel Our Home during his career, added that the cooperation between the IAF and other air forces is extremely beneficial to the pilots, who gain invaluable experience as they learn from and teach others. “Our young fellows, the lieutenants and majors, come back full of experience. Even the more veteran and experienced ones, like the ones who were killed yesterday, come back full of new ways of maneuvering that assist them for months.”
Cohen also hinted broadly that Israel's cooperation with Romania was connected to the crisis between Israel and Turkey. Turkey, he said, lost more than Israel from the breaking off of military cooperation between the two countries.
"They thought that they sent a flotilla and made a big ruckus... but they lost more than Israel did. We are now working with the Romanians and others and not with the Turks... let them eat the pickle that they themselves prepared,” he summed up, a sarcastic Israeli adage for being 'hoisted by one's own petard' .