Navy is a long, powerful arm of Israel - Netanyahu
By Ori Lewis | Reuters
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described
Israel's navy as one of the Jewish state's strategic "long arms"
on Wednesday, a day after Turkey cut military trade ties and said
it would send its warships to patrol in the eastern Mediterranean.
"The navy is one of the two long arms of the Israel Defence Forces
and it is a long and very powerful arm. Through your actions you
maintain calm and our security at sea," Netanyahu said at a
passing out ceremony for naval officers.
The second long arm Netanyahu was referring to in his speech at a
naval base in the northern port city of Haifa was Israel's air
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to send
warships into Mediterranean waters where Israel's navy operates,
raising the prospect of a first confrontation at sea between these
two major U.S. allies.
Erdogan's remarks on Tuesday were the latest development in the
escalation of tensions since Ankara's downgrade of diplomatic ties
in a dispute over Israel's killings of nine Turkish citizens in a
raid to stop a flotilla from sailing to the Hamas Islamist-ruled
Gaza Strip last year.
Netanyahu added: "In the past few days we have witnessed a
deepening of tensions with Turkey and it was not our choice and it
is not our choice today. We respect the Turkish people and its
heritage and we certainly want to improve ties."
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Jon Boyle)