Israel and Greece are currently conducting a joint naval exercise in the Mediterraean, in yet another manifestation of both the growing friendship between the two countries and the intensifying discord between Israel and Turkey.
The drill, called “Noble Dina”, will continue through April 5, and will also include the U.S. Sixth Fleet. It is aimed at simulating submarine combat, airborne dogfights, as well as coordinating the defense of offshore natural gas platforms.
This is the first joint naval exercise Israel has conducted in the Mediterranean in two years. Turkey, Greece’s longtime regional rival, severed military cooperation with Israel two years ago, in the wake of the IDF’s raid on the Turkish flotilla Mavi Marmara, which left nine Turkish nationals dead. Up till that point, Israel, the U.S., and Turkey had been conducting similar annual drills in the Mediterranean.
The exercise, first reported by Greek media outlets, was planned months in advance. But in Greece, Turkey’s withdrawal from high-level military cooperation with Israel is seen as a strategic opportunity – not only to increase military cooperation with the U.S. and Israel, but also to do so at Turkey’s expense.
The war games simulation reportedly casts as the ‘enemy’ a force with similar capabilities to those of Turkey. Turkey has recently warned Greece against drilling at offshore natural gas sites near Cyprus, and contests Greece’s claims of sovereignty over them.
The exercise comes 10 days after Israel procured another dolphin submarine from Germany, increasing its fleet to six. Dolphin submarines are capable of launching nuclear payloads, and are therefore crucial to solidifying Israel’s “second-strike” capabilities.