Israeli Jets Reportedly Harrass Turkish Ship in Mediterranean
In the 1960s, James Baldwin wrote a seminal book, The Fire Next Time. For anyone who’d like to know how a raging Israeli fire could break out “next time” in the Mediterranean, they have but to examine Israel’s reported interception of an Turkish research vessel that was sailing in an area claimed by Greek Cyprus and Israel for joint oil and gas expoloration/development. Turkey’s Zaman reported this:
Turkish Vatan daily published a story on Friday referring to a story by the Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, which argued that Israel boosted its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as of Thursday night.The report said the two F-15 jets that took off from Tel Aviv flew through the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot airspaces. The jets reportedly ignored warnings from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) officials and got so close to Turkey’s Mediterranean coasts that they could be even seen from Mersin’s beaches, the report said. Turkey then reportedly sent two F-16 jets to the area to track the Israeli jets, which then returned to Israel.
An Israeli military helicopter also flew over the Turkish research ship, Piri Reis, on Thursday night, according to the daily, as it was in the Aphrodite gas field, off Cyprus’ southern coast and adjacent to the larger Leviathan field. The helicopter flew low over the ship for a long time, the report said.
Zaman notes that the Turkish general staff has denied the incident occurred. Either the Greek Cypriot story is bogus or the general staff wishes to play down the confrontation.
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As it seems certain that Israeli harassment or attempts at intimidation will not deter Turkey from supporting the claims of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to an interest in the oil and gas fields off its shores, one has to wonder what game the Israelis are playing here.
Taking into account the seeming irrationality of the Israeli leadership at present, is it possible they are trying to provoke an armed confrontation that might lead to war?