Despite having no diplomatic ties with Israel and rhetorically being pro-Palestinian, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, is conducting military exercises in Greece alongside the same Israeli Army that has maintained a decades-long brutal occupation in the West Bank and has been accused of human rights abuses against Palestinians by the United Nations and others.
The military exercises include several other countries such as the U.S. and Italy.
The Iniohos 2017 exercise aims to “strengthen our relationships, maintain joint readiness and interoperability, and reassure our regional allies and partners,” the U.S. Army said in a press release about the military training earlier Monday.
While there are no official ties between Israel and the UAE, news reports and officials in both sides have reported secret talks and cooperation in economic, intelligence and military sectors between the two controversial nations.
In July 2015, the UAE deployed a surveillance system manufactured by Israeli defense contractor to deepen its spying on the Gulf State's civilian population.
A report by the Financial Times in 2016 said that over the past few years Israel has been exchanging security consultancy with Arab monarchies. “The Sunni Arab states increasingly see the Middle East through the same prism as Israel,” Dore Gold, then Israel’s acting foreign minister, told the newspaper.
This was not the first time that UAE and Israeli jets have flown together as part of military exercises. The two armies participated in the Red Flag training exercise in the United States.
"(Israel) is in a peak year of cooperation with foreign armies in Israel and abroad. In November, the largest aerial exercise will be held here, with nine countries," Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel said speaking of the exercises a few months ago according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The UAE is currently part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen which has killed more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians. The coalition forces have been accused of intentionally targeting schools, hospitals, markets and wedding parties where hundreds of civilians were killed and injured.
Some have suggested that the collective punishment tactic in Yemen used by Saudi Arabia and its allies resembles those used by Israel in its three different wars against Gaza and the Palestinians.