India-Israel ties are going from strength to strength
 
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India-Israel ties are going from strength to strength

General V.P. Malik (retd)
 

Not many people would know that in the wake of the India-China war in 1962, Israel had helped us with 81mm and 120mm mortars and pack howitzer artillery guns with ammunition, when desperately required by us. Or that in mid Sixties, General David Shaltiel, Chief of the Israeli Army, had visited India. In 1967, India reciprocated by sending spares for Israeli Mystere and Ouragon aircraft and AMX-13 tanks.

Indo-Israeli military relations between the two countries those days were more covert than overt. There were many reasons, but primarily to avoid upsetting India’s relations with Arab and other Muslim countries. The government in India wanted to continue that way but after mid-Nineties, media in India and abroad started reporting about it, though not extensively.

After 1996, several defence officers from India visited Israel. But none of these visits created as much furore among Arab nations as my official visit to Israel on 8–11 March 1998. Mine was the first ‘goodwill mission’ by a Chief of Army Staff from India, ‘to reciprocate Israeli General David Shaltiel’s visit to India in 1967’. The invite came from General Lipkin-Shahak, then Chief of the Israeli Army. By then, Wing Commander N.A.K. Brown (who later became the Chief of the Air Staff) had assumed office as India’s first defence attaché in Israel.

The primary objectives of my visit were: to understand Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) organisations, training and its anti-infiltration measures along its border with Lebanon, learn how the Israelis had developed their first-rate defence industry, and consider the scope of future defence cooperation between our two nations.

President of Israel Reuven Rivlin with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House during his visit to India in November 2016
President of Israel Reuven Rivlin with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House during his visit to India in November 2016

 
 
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