Cyprus-Israel military exercise irks Turkey

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Cyprus and Israel will conduct their largest joint military exercise within Cypriot territory on Sunday, stirring Turkey’s reaction.

The exercise will take place in the presence of Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who will be visiting the island.

Cyprus’ Defence Ministry has confirmed the exercise is slotted in for the coming days but avoided further detail.

Israeli naval units will conduct an exercise in Cyprus, in which “several warplanes” will also participate.

According to news site Philenews, the exercise is the largest joint military drill with Israel, with a record number of military divisions participating.

In the past, joint exercises were carried out with Israeli special forces and the air force. However, these exercises were done separately and not to the extent that they will now occur.

The news of the military exercise was announced amid protests of Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who visited his Israeli counterpart in Israel, Yair Lapid.

Cavusoglu asked Israeli officials what the purpose of the joint exercise was.

Israeli officials said they had offered clarification to Ankara, saying the drill was for domestic purposes and nothing more.

Israel is currently conducting its largest “Chariots of Fire” military drill, mobilizing thousands of soldiers and reservists.

According to The Times of Israel, the exercise includes a simulated attack on Iranian nuclear targets, while this weekend’s drill will conclude in Cyprus.

Joint military exercises with Israel, one of the most modern and best-equipped armed forces globally, are seen as invaluable to Cyprus in sharpening its combat readiness.