Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz arrives in Bahrain for unannounced visit

Feb 2, 2022: According to a report by Reuters, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has arrived in Bahrain on an unannounced visit amid rising tensions in the Gulf following missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Yemen’s Iran-linked Houthi movement.

Announcing Gantz’s visit to Manama shortly after his arrival, the Israeli Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that it would sign a security co-operation agreement with Bahrain, which would co-operate with neighboring United Arab Emirates. In 2020, relations of the Gulf state Israel returned to normal under the Abraham Accords.

The UAE intercepted a missile during the Israeli president’s visit on Monday, the third such attack in two weeks by Houthis fighting a Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates. Disclosing Gantz’s official visit, the Israeli Defense Ministry did not mention the Houthi attacks or provide details about what would be included in the security agreement with Bahrain, the home of a US naval base in the Gulf.

The US has said it is sending fighter jets to help the United Arab Emirates in the wake of the missile strikes.

Gantz left for Bahrain on an Israeli Air Force transport plane. This is the first time an Israeli defense chief has visited a Gulf country or an Israeli military plane has landed there.

Bahrain, the UAE and Israel signed the US-brokered agreement, which shared common trade interests and concerns about Iran. Sudan and Morocco followed suit in regularizing relations with Israel.

In September, Bahrain hosted the highest-level visit since a deal was struck to normalize Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. The forces of the Central Command of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the United States conducted a naval exercise in the Red Sea in November.

Israel said such military co-operation could help counter Iran’s “projection of power” in the region.

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