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'Very Emotional': Germany, Israel Come Together for Historic Military Exercise

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Germany welcomed military aircraft from Israel to its airspace on Thursday in their first joint combat exercises in German territory as both air forces praised the intensive cooperation between the two countries.

“It was very emotional for us when, one after the other, the first Israeli jets arrived here in German airspace,” a spokesman for the German Luftwaffe told the German news agency dpa.

“Nowadays, we have a very intense partnership with the Israelis,” spokesman Thorsten Weber said.

“We work closely together, we do exercises together, German soldiers are being trained in Israel.”

Israeli Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel O., who didn’t give his full name in line with military regulations, said that during the exercises he remembered the difficult past of Germans and Jews while also looking to the future.

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Relations between Israel and Germany were difficult in the first decades after the end of World War II, but the two nations have grown closer over the years.

“I think all of us are feeling it right in the heart how deep the past is,” O. told The Associated Press.

“But we’re looking into the future and are happy for the opportunity of flying together.”

He added that the cooperation of the two air forces was a good thing for both countries.

Are you encouraged by the cooperation between Germany and Israel?

Nowadays, Germany is one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.

Still, interactions between the two nations carry a deep symbolic significance because of the horrors of the Holocaust, which ended 75 years ago when Germany surrendered in World War II.

The Israeli pilots arrived at the base in western Germany on Monday for two weeks of exercises. They are conducting training with the German air force for the first week, and also with planes from the Hungarian air force in the second week.

Their planes include a group of six F-16s, two Gulfstreams and two Boeing 707 tanker jets. A total of around 180 Israeli personnel are involved.

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