Rachel Avraham
Rachel AvrahamCourtesy

It was recently reported in the media that Azerbaijan sent a 900-foot Seaviolent tanker loaded with over one million barrels of oil in order to help Israel’s war against the Hamas terror organization. As we speak, the oil tanker is currently en route to Israel via the port in Eilat or has just arrived.

After Israel’s main port in Ashkelon has come under heavy Hamas rocket fire, Israel’s port on the Red Sea in the coastal city of Eilat is presently being utilized for oil shipments from across the globe. Presently, Baku provides Israel with 40 percent of its energy needs and it is believed that this percentage could rise even more.

For the Israeli war effort, the arrival of oil to the Jewish state is of critical importance. All of Israel’s airplanes, helicopters, tanks, and military vehicles all rely upon this oil in order to function. The ground operation into Gaza would be difficult to implement without a steady supply of oil into the Jewish state, thus ensuring that this military equipment can operate with ease. For this reason, the heavy barrage of rocket fire into Ashkelon could have been a fatal disaster for Israel, had the port in Eilat not been activated.

Israel and Azerbaijan have long-standing cooperation militarily, politically, strategically, economically and in a series of other spheres as well. Recently, the Israel Aerospace Industries and Azercosmos, the space agency of Azerbaijan, announced that Azerbaijan will be purchasing two of IAI”s advanced satellites. The deal includes Israel sharing their knowledge for the construction and operation of the satellites with Azerbaijan.

From an Azerbaijani perspective, it is only natural that the Caucuses country help Israel out during their hour of need with a steady supply of oil. Azerbaijan recently had an anti-terror operation against Armenia and Israel played a major role in assuring Azerbaijan’s victory, as the Jewish state has sold billions of dollars’ worth of armaments to the country.

According to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Israel was the source of 60% of Azerbaijan’s annual arms purchases between 2015 and 2019. One of the greatest weapons Azerbaijan purchased from Israel was drones, which Azerbaijan now produces locally with the help of the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems. In addition to that, the Israeli Elta Systems provided Baku with digital mapping of Karabakh, which gave Azerbaijan a significant advantage during operations. Therefore, since Israel was there for Azerbaijan during their hour of need, it is only natural now that Azerbaijan will be there for Israel.

There is also moral support. After the October 7 massacre, when over 1,400 Israelis were slaughtered and over 200 were taken hostage into Gaza, while many others were mutilated, tortured and raped, over 1,000 Azerbaijanis showed up at the Israeli Embassy in Baku in order to pay their respects to the Jewish victims. These Azerbaijanis came with flowers, candles, toys, flags and posters proclaiming “our thoughts are with Israel” and “we stand in solidarity.”

The Working Group for Azerbaijan-Israel Interparliamentary Relations proclaimed: "We condemn unequivocally and in the strongest terms the wide-scale attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip accompanied by indiscriminate rocket strikes. We stand firmly with Israel in these hard times."

The famous Flame Towers in Baku also lit up in the colors of the Israeli flag.

Israel's Ambassador to Azerbaijan to George Deek declared: "Thank you to the Azerbaijani people for this heartfelt gesture of friendship. The flood of messages of love, the flowers at the embassy gate and the posts on social media, this gives us strength in the darkest hour of our history. Thank you. We shall prevail."

Saadat Sukurova Israelov, the head of Kanal 24, Vice President of Aziz, and the chairwoman of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy, compared what happened during the October 7 Massacre to what happened in Khojaly, where the Armenians massacred 613 Azerbaijani men, women and children for the crime of being Azerbaijani in one day. On that horrific day, the Armenians also tortured, injured, raped and held countless others hostage as well. For that reason, she claims that Azerbaijanis very much understand what the Israeli people suffered on October 7.

Rabbi Zamir Isayev concurred with Israelov, noting, “We knew for sure that Azerbaijan would stand with Israel during these difficult times. Azerbaijanis too have suffered from tragedies of a similar magnitude. The Jewish community in Azerbaijan remembers the horrific Khojaly Genocide that occurred three decades ago and this colors the Azerbaijani perspective to date.”

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”