Israeli combat aircraft will fly over Germany for the first time next week, as they take part in joint military exercises with the Luftwaffe.
In what is being hailed as a historic moment of postwar reconciliation, on Tuesday German and Israeli fighters will fly together over Dachau concentration camp, where thousands of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
“After the crime against humanity of the Shoah, it is a moving sign of our friendship today that we are flying side by side with the Israeli air force for the first time in our history,” Lt-Gen Ingo Gerhartz, commanding officer of the Luftwaffe, said.
“The darkest chapter in German history confers a duty on us today to fight anti-Semitism with all our might.”
German and Israeli fighters will also stage a fly-past at the site of the Munich Olympic Village, to honour the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches murdered there by the Palestinian group Black September in 1972.
The visit is not just ceremonial. The Israeli F-16 fighters will take part in almost two weeks of joint combat exercises with their German counterparts.
“This unprecedented joint exercise between the air forces of Israel and Germany has literally brought the strategic cooperation between the two countries to new heights,” Jeremy Issacharoff, the Israeli ambassador to Germany, said.
“This inspiring event demonstrates the friendship and trust that has emerged between Israel and Germany.”
Military cooperation between Israel and Germany has developed considerably in recent years. While this is the Israeli air force’s first deployment in Germany, Luftwaffe aircraft have taken part in two joint training exercises in Israel since 2017, and the Israeli army took part in a large-scale multinational exercise in Germany last year, training alongside British, German and US troops.