The Israeli air force has been removed from the list of armed forces now taking part in multinational military training exercises on the Italian island of Sardinia following a campaign by anti-war activists.
During Israel’s deadly 51-day bombing campaign on Gaza in July and August, anti-militarization and Palestine solidarity groups mobilized against the military drills in general, and Israel’s participation in particular.
Palestinians in Gaza, standing in the rubble of destroyed homes, posted photographs appealing directly to Italy not to “train the pilots who bombs us.”
The prospect of Israeli F-16s using the island to train for bombing missions, combined with the ill-timed delivery to Israel of two Italian trainer jets just after the attacks on Gaza began, created public outrage in Italy, with multiple calls for an embargo on weapons cooperation with Israel.
On 31 July, the Italian defense ministry published a note in an attempt to calm the waters. Without mentioning Israel, the ministry note stated that the planning stages for the drills had not yet been completed and only upon completion would the participating countries be confirmed.
The drills started last month and are scheduled to run until December.
As speculation on the possible exclusion of Israel continued, so did the mobilizations. A demonstration on 13 September at the Capo Frasca firing range, where Israel was to train, saw large-scale participation.
More than 350 people broke into the military area in an act of civil disobedience.
On 25 September, Gioacchino Alfano, Italy’s deputy defense minister, responded to a parliamentary question by claiming that military drills with the Israeli air force were never in the plans and therefore could not have been suspended.
That statement contradicted a March 2014 document from the Capo Frasca firing range, which clearly indicated that Israel was to take part in drills during the second half of 2014.
Furthermore, Israel has participated in similar drills undertaken in Sardinia in recent years, as photographs posted by the Israeli military prove.
October 20, 2014 – See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/israel-excluded-from-italy-military-exercises-after-protests-12750#sthash.mXU6sbT0.dpuf or http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/israel-excluded-from-italy-military-exercises-after-protests-12750