Report: Israel Spied on Turkish Pilots

Turkish newspaper claims that Israel wiretapped conversations between Turkish pilots on military training flights.

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Elad Benari,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel has wiretapped conversations between Turkish pilots on military training flights, a Turkish news report said on Wednesday.

According to the Turkish-based Habertürk daily, Israel wiretapped the conversations among pilots of Turkish fighter jets during their training flights at the Konya 3rd Main Jet Base Command, apparently in a spying mission aimed at finding out details about the Turkish Air Forces' (THK) training programs and flight strategies.

The report noted that acting on this intelligence, the THK has initiated a project to encrypt the communication between the fighter jets. Turkish engineers are currently working to develop a software system for encoding.

Turkey and Israel have been in a diplomatic row which began shortly after Turkey demanded that Israel apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals onboard the Mavi Marmara in May of 2010. The Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli soldiers who boarded the Gaza-bound ship were forced to open fire after being attacked by the activists on board with clubs and knives.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to apologize for the incident, and Turkey responded by downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan further deteriorated the tense situation when he chose to verbally attack Israel on several occasions.

The Turkish army claimed a few months ago that it nearly downed an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Most recently, Turkey “punished” Israel by blocking it from taking part in a NATO summit this month.