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Turkish Frigates To Confront Israeli Ships In Mediterranean

Turkish Navy’s Barbaros class frigate F246 Salihreis

The Turkish Navy is planning to dispatch three
frigates to the Eastern Mediterranean to ensure freedom of navigation
and to confront Israeli warships if necessary, a Turkish news report
said on Monday.
The Turkish frigates, to be dispatched by the
Navy’s Southern Sea Area Command, will provide protection to civilian
ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, blockaded by Israel since 2007,
the Turkish daily Sabah reported. If the Turkish warships encounter an
Israeli military ship outside Israel’s 12-mile territorial waters, they
will advance up to 100 meters close to the ship and disable its weapon
system, in a confrontation that resembles dogfights in the Aegean Sea
with Greek jet fighters, according to the report.
The report comes days after Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkish warships will escort
civilian aid ships headed to Gaza to prevent a repetition of last year’s
Israeli raid on a Turkish-owned ship that killed eight Turks and a
Turkish-American, setting the stage for a potential naval confrontation
with its former ally. 

Turkey announced a set of sanctions against
Israel after it refused to apologize for the 2010 raid, expelling the
Israeli ambassador and other senior diplomats and suspending military
agreements with Israel. Turkey also promised to take measures to ensure
freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said
Erdoğan’s remarks were “harsh and serious,” but stressed that Israel
was not interested in a war of words with its once-close ally. “Our
silence is the best response. I hope this phenomenon will pass,” he said
on Friday.