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Israel airlink becomes Azerbaijan weapons lifeline: report

Israel airlink becomes Azerbaijan weapons lifeline: report
2 min read
07 March, 2023
Israeli arms now make up as much as 70 percent of the Azerbaijani arsenal.
Around 70 percent of Azerbaijan's weapons were manufactured in Israel [Getty images]

Israel has sold weaponry worth billions of dollars to Azerbaijan over the last seven years, according to a new investigation by Israeli media.  

Flights allegedly carrying munitions leave Israel through the Ovda Israeli air force base in Eilat, according to publicly available aviation data. In return, the Azerbaijan government in Baku provides Israel with consistent oil and - crucially - access to Iran, the Haaretz report said. 

Silk Way, a pan-Asian cargo company that flies three times a week between Baku and Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, has flown 92 times from Ovda, Israel's only military air base authorised to import and export explosives, since 2016. 

The data unearthed by Haaretz shows a spike in flights to Baku particularly in the middle of 2016, late 2020, and at the end of 2021 – coinciding with periods of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh

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Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought over the Nagorno-Karabakh region for decades. 

Israel is now responsible for manufacturing nearly 70 percent of Azerbaijan’s weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, which has been used in the bitter conflict over the enclave.

Israeli companies have also supplied advanced spy technology, such as communications monitoring systems from Verint, and the Pegasus spyware from the NSO Group, used to monitor dissenting voices and human rights activists in Azerbaijan.

Since 2012, Azerbaijan has granted Israel extensive use of its airfields that could be used in an escalation of military engagement with Iran. 

Over a decade ago, US diplomats were quoted saying that "Israel is deeply embedded in Azerbaijan".  

Azerbaijani and Israeli diplomatic ties are also strengthening. 

On 11 January, President Ilham Aliyev appointed Mukhtar Mammadov, a veteran Azerbaijani official, to serve as Baku's first ambassador to Israel - making Azerbaijan the first Shia-majority country to open an embassy in Tel Aviv.