India takes part in first ever military drill with Israel

Indian troops took part in the first ever joint military exercise with their Israeli counterparts yesterday.

Elite Indian pilots and rescue soldiers from the Garud Unit, which is said to be the equivalent of Israel’s 669 Unit, took part in the biannual Blue Flag drill at the Palmachim air base in central Israel.  Over 70 aircraft from seven countries took part, including India for the first time in its history.

The military drill, which included over 1,000 personnel, was billed as having a “profound strategic meaning” said Col Itamar, commander of the Ovda base in Israel.  Holding the exercise in Israel, according to Ovada was a major diplomatic achievement.

India’s decision to take part in the drill is another sign of New Delhi’s blossoming ties with Israel under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier in the year Modi visited Israel, making a historic break from its support for the Palestinians. Previous Indian Prime Ministers, including the country’s founder and revered leader Mahatma Gandhi, had opposed the Zionist state, believing it to be a colonial enterprise. The leader of the Indian independence movement against the British was strongly opposed to the idea of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

Read more: War Against the People

Gandhi’s opposition to the idea of an ethno-religious nation state was widely known. His towering presence directed India’s tradition of supporting Palestinian self-determination, which continued late into the 20th century where New Delhi could be seen voting against Israel frequently at the UN.

Under Modi, however, India has taken a different course. The right wing Hindu nationalist, alleged to have been the mastermind behind the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat while serving as the chief minister of the state, has cemented a deep alliance between Tel Aviv and New Delhi. His bond with Netanyahu is described by critics as a political marriage between two men who harbour virulent nationalism tinged with racism and bigotry.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Jerusalem on 5 July 2017 [Haim Zach/GPO / Handout /Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Jerusalem on 5 July 2017 [Haim Zach/GPO / Handout /Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s ability to forge such relationships also highlights its status as being the global leader in the military industry. Israel’s culture of deep militarism and years of experience supressing the political rights of the Palestinians has enabled it to export its technology of control and domination to others. Its unique experiences have also made the country an invaluable asset to governments around the world that too are confronted with new security challenges.

Despite its status as a relatively small arms dealer compared to the likes of the USA and Russia, Israel’s security exports are unmatched in terms of quality. Israel has managed to carve out a niche in the security industry, selling its experience and expertise in policing, urban warfare, surveillance, intelligence. Analysts describe this as “full spectrum domination”.

Israel’s unique role in security – what some would call suppression – can be seen from the Contras in Latin America, to the riots in Ferguson, North America;  from the massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda to the killings of Rohinga Muslims in Burma. There are numerous instances in which Israel and Israeli security companies have led the way in the pacification of the people through the export of arms, surveillance technology, intelligence and security advice.

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