Israël is not a member of Nato which is developing a partnership for peace with almost all the Arab states. That said, Nato members do organize joint action with the Hebrew State to test out their ability to work as a team. As a matter of fact, the Jewish colony of Palestine benefits from de facto Nato support, but not from the guarantee to intervene pursuant to art 5 of the Nato Treaty. But this is of no real importance since the United States is able to issue orders for all the members to mobilize.
Italian fighter bombers Tornado, Eurofighter 2000, F-16 Falcon and others, that bombed Libya in 2011, participating in 1,182 missions in the Nato operation “Unified Protector”, are now ready to take off once again. Not for a new war in a shattered Libya, where chaos prevails (even the terminal of the gas pipeline for Italy is under attack) but to get ready for other wars. In November, they will participate in the biggest air warfare exercise ever carried out in Israel.
Within two weeks, the drill, christened “Blue Flag”, modelled on the US Air Force’s drill, will take place in the Negev Desert in two weeks. A small, select group of air forces was invited: the United States, Italy and Greece. In total, more than 100 airplanes and 1,000 soldiers will participate in “Blue Flag”. It will be a live exercise with the use of bombs and missiles with precision guidance. The scenario will simulate an attack on the territory of an enemy equipped with strong air defences (such as Iran for example): after neutralizing its defences, bomber fighters will strike terrestrial objectives, represented by targets dispersed in the desert. In air duals, the Enemy Air Force will be impersonated by the Israeli Air Forces’ “Aggressor Squadron” whose pilots are trained to simulate various combat tactics, “in particular, those of the Arab Air Forces”.
Israel attributes much importance to the “Blue Flag”. General Amikan Norkin has declared that the Israeli Air Forces are trying out new procedures “to reduce the duration of future wars” by stepping up their destructive capabilities. In other words, it will enable “ten times more targets to be identified and destructed”. Now is the time to test out this capacity in a joint exercise with advanced air forces, such as the one involving the US and Italy. In an interview with Defense News (21 October), General Norkin stressed that in the eight day Operation “Defense Pillar” carried out in Gaza in November 2012, the Israeli Air Force attacked 1,500 targets, double the number attacked in 34 days in the war in Lebanon in 2006. Thus even the Italian pilots will be able to learn a lot, by participating in the air war drill in Israel.
At the same time, Operation “Blue Flag” serves to integrate Israeli air forces into Nato’s. Until now, Nato Forces had carried out joint exercises only with individual countries in the Alliance (for example, the operation in Decimomannu with the Italian Air Force). In this way, even though Israel is not officially a member of Nato, its operations form part of Nato strategy and military operations. This falls within the scope of the “Individual Cooperation Programme” with Israel, ratified by Nato on 2 December 2008, around three weeks before the Israeli operation “Cast Lead” against Gaza. This includes a vast range of sectors in which “Nato and Israel are fully cooperating”:
• exchanging information between the intelligence services;
• connecting Israel to the Nato electronic system;
• co-operating in the arms sector;
• increasing joint military drills; and
• extending cooperation against nuclear proliferation (ignoring the fact that Israel, the only nuclear power in the region, refuses to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty and has rejected the UN’s proposal for a Conference On The De-Nuclearization of the Middle East). Italy will participate in this operation with its bomber fighters.
These will take off over the heads of more than six million Italians without work or very little: we do not know under which head of the state balance will be allocated the cost of transferring military planes and staff to Israel and making them participate in war drills but we know that it will be more public money deducted from the welfare pot.
The bomber fighters will take off over the head of a parliament almost all of whose members have probably not been informed of Italy’s participation in the air war drill in Israel and are therefore in the dark of its political, military and economic implications. At exactly the same time, military missions are being discussed at Palazzo Montecitorio; missions that the parliamentary majority present as indispensable for international peace, particularly in the Middle East. Should an MP present a question on Italy’s participation in “Blue Flag”, Minister Mauro, the Minister of Defense, would respond that it is an exercise of air warfare albeit “humanitarian”.
Il Manifesto (Italy)