Naval exercise
Naval exercise Photo: IDF

Despite Israel's reluctance to take a definite position in the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, the Israeli navy is currently participating in a joint exercise with NATO members in Mediterranean waters, Israel Hayom reports.

This is an exercise that takes place every year in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea with the participation of the Israeli Navy and various foreign fleets. This year, the exercise is slightly larger in comparison to previous years; in addition to Israel and Cyprus, the United States, France, and Greece, all NATO members, will also be participating.

In light of the current tense state of affairs between Russia and western powers, and especially NATO, Israel had been considering cancelling its participation so as not to be perceived as taking sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but after a discussion on the issue, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi decided in favor of participating.

This year, Israel's missile warships (Shayetet 3) are taking part in the exercises, and also the country's submarine squadron (Shayetet 7) along with other craft.

The purpose of the exercise is to enhance cooperation between the various participating fleets, as well as to deepen professional knowledge. The exercise is set to continue until the end of the week and will feature, among other things, a simulated campaign against submarine attack, several search and rescue scenarios, and a scenario simulating battle between warships.

Israel, the United States, and Greece are regular participants in the exercise; for France and Cyprus, this is only the second year that they are participating, the first time having been last year, when the United States did not participate.

Two years ago, the exercise was cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.

Unlike previous years, this year Israeli Atalef helicopters will not be participating in the exercise due to the serious accident that occurred to a helicopter of that class at the beginning of the year. Several Atalef helicopters have since returned to operative status after over two months of being grounded following the accident in which Lt. Col. Erez Sahiyani and Major Chen Fogel lost their lives, but since the entire squadron of helicopters has yet to return to full operative status, it was decided not to send any Atalef helicopters to participate in this year's NATO exercise.