Israeli air force chief makes first visit to Morocco
Israeli Air Force commander Tomer Bar has concluded his first official visit to Morocco, amid a strengthening of defence ties between Tel Aviv and Rabat.
Bar, who landed in the North African kingdom on Tuesday, met with his counterpart El Abed Alaoui Bouhamid, and visited the Ben Guerir Air Base, the Moroccan Royal Air Force Academy, and the Royal Air Force headquarters, The Times of Israel reported, citing an official military statement.
The Israeli army said it "welcomed the strengthening of the existing cooperation between the two armies". Key military issues, such as air defence, team exchanges and joint aerial exercises, were reportedly discussed.
Bar described the visit as "an exciting moment" and hailed the Moroccan air force as "one of the most professional and advanced" in the world.
מפקד חיל האוויר, אלוף תומר בר, שב הלילה מביקור רשמי ראשון במרוקו.— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) February 24, 2023
המשלחת ביקרה בבסיס בן גורייר של צבא מרוקו, באקדמיית חיל-האוויר ובמטה חיל האוויר המרוקאי >> pic.twitter.com/HXaEzAmeTP
Bar’s trip follows a series of visits between the two states regarding military cooperation. Morocco and Israel established ties with the US-brokered Abraham Accords in December 2020. The deal also saw the UAE and Bahrain normalise relations with Israel.
Last week, an Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that Moroccan artillery inspector General-Major Mohamed Benouali toured a number of military sites in Israel as part of a "framework to strengthen corporation and coordination between the two countries’ armed forces".
Another senior Moroccan military official, Belkhir el-Farouk, took part in the International Operational Innovation Conference organised by the Israeli army in September last year.
"We will act and advance cooperation and common interests, we will strengthen partnerships in training and knowledge for the benefit of maintaining regional stability," Bar said following his visit.
Pictures of the visit were also posted on the Israeli Defence Forces’ Twitter account.
In January, Morocco and Israel agreed to strengthen military corporation including intelligence and cybersecurity and electronic warfare.
In November 2021, Israel’s then-defence minister Benny Gantz signed a memorandum of understanding in the Moroccan capital Rabat defining security relations with the north African kingdom.
Morocco’s normalisation of ties with Israel has been met with opposition from a large number of Moroccan citizens and activists, who have continued to express their support for the Palestinian cause.
The Palestinians view Arab states’ normalisation moves as a betrayal of their cause, as Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and east Jerusalem and besiege the Gaza Strip while inflicting deadly violence.