Haaretz investigation reveals dozens of cargo flights from Baku to Israeli airstrip used for export of explosives ■ Israel sells Azerbaijan weaponry worth billions – and, per sources, receives oil and access to Iran ■ Tensions between Azerbaijan and both Iran and Armenia have ratcheted up recently
By Avi Scharf, Oded Yaron
Mar 6, 2023
An Azerbaijani cargo plane landed last Thursday at the Ovda Israeli air force base north of Eilat. After two hours on the ground, as usual, the old Ilyushin-76 airlifter took off, flew over central Israel, continued north over Turkey and then to the east – returning to its home field in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
An investigation by Haaretz, based on publicly available aviation data, reveals that over the past seven years, 92 cargo flights flown by Azerbaijani Silk Way Airlines have landed at the Ovda airbase, the only airfield in Israel through which explosives may be flown into and out of the country.
Israel has had a strategic alliance with Azerbaijan for the past two decades, and Israel sells the large Shi’ite-majority country weapons worth billions of dollars — and in return, Azerbaijan, per sources, supplies Israel with oil and access to Iran.
According to foreign media reports, Azerbaijan has allowed the Mossad to set up a forward branch to monitor what is happening in Iran, Azerbaijan’s neighbor to the south, and has even prepared an airfield intended to aid Israel in case it decides to attack Iranian nuclear sites. Reports from two years ago stated that the Mossad agents who stole the Iranian nuclear archive smuggled it to Israel via Azerbaijan. According to official reports from Azerbaijan, over the years Israel has sold it the most advanced weapons systems, including ballistic missiles, air defense and electronic warfare systems, kamikaze drones and more.
Silk Way is one of the largest cargo airlines in Asia, and according to official documents it serves as a subcontractor for various defense ministries around the world. The company operates three weekly flights between Baku and Ben-Gurion International Airport with Boeing 747 cargo freighters, and last year it was the third-largest foreign cargo carrier in terms of volume at Ben-Gurion.
Continue reading at www.haaretz.com
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