Israel’s army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi presented a medal of honor and appreciation Tuesday to the Commander of the German Air Force, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, marking the close cooperation between the two militaries.
“The reason we are presenting you with this award is your effort, commitment, combined training and mutual projects you have promoted with the Israeli military”, said Kochavi at the ceremony. “This is an opportunity for us to express our appreciation to you, Commander of the German Air Force and to the commander of the German military, as well as the entire German military.”
“I believe that we created a meaningful partnership in many fields and theaters, along with a strong set of values based on our history while looking forward to the future,” he added.
Gerhartz received the decoration during Israel’s largest and most advanced multi-national air combat exercise, which started on Sunday. The Blue Flag 2021 exercise includes seven air forces, from Germany, Italy, Britain, France, India, Greece and the United States. As part of the joint exercise, fighter jets from Israel and Germany on Sunday flew side-by-side over Jerusalem — the first time since World War I that the latter’s aircraft have flown over those skies.
“This cooperation has enormous operational relevance and great importance for the safety of our soldiers”, said Gerhartz. “Our cooperation is not based on a single project, but a wide variety of many different initiatives.”
Additionally, Germany’s Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer, awarded Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest decoration awarded by the German President.
“I am very privileged and honored to award you the cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. This order of merit is the highest tribute in all of Germany and for the German society,” said Dr. Wasum-Rainer. “It is a symbol of appreciation for your outstanding and important contribution as the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, to the deepening and expansion of German-Israeli relations.”
“Over the past decades, our nations have succeeded in establishing a strong, bilateral relationship and strong friendship over the embers of the Holocaust and against all odds of history. This cooperation was made possible due to generosity and the belief in reconciliation of many individuals, and of the Israeli and Jewish people,” she continued.
Dr. Wasum-Rainer underlined the importance of the Blue Flag aerial exercise, in which Israeli and German fighter aircraft train together to prepare for what she described as “demanding security challenges of our time.”
Gerhartz expressed gratitude to the IAF’s Norkin, calling him “a military leader, and a true bridge builder between our nations.”
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Author: Sharon Wrobel
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