Two Azerbaijani military planes reportedly landed in Israel earlier this month, at the height of recent violent skirmishes between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the first week of April, a publicly accessible online flight database twice picked up a large cargo plane belonging to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry entering Israeli airspace and flying to the Uvda military airfield in the south of the country, according to the report in the Israeli daily Haaretz.
An Ilyushin 76 cargo plane, flying under the call sign AZAF8 (Azerbaijani Air Force) is said to have arrived in Israel on April 4 and again on April 6, having come from the direction of Turkey. The planes apparently stayed on the ground for two to three hours.
This is not the first time Israel has been accused of helping Azerbaijan in the conflict, but allowing an Azerbaijani military aircraft to land in Israel would represent an upgrade in cooperation between the two countries, which have long maintained cordial ties.
In the same week that the planes are said to have landed in Israel, reports emerged that the Azerbaijani army had used an Israeli-made attack drone to target an Armenian convoy in the region.
A press spokesman for Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on his Facebook page that the Azerbaijani army was using the Israeli-made kamikaze Harop drone. The Harop is small enough to be able to skirt enemy aircraft detection systems and can find targets by radar or radio wave, as well as by remote piloting.
Artsrun Hovhannisyan told the state-run Russian agency Ria Novosti that the drone had apparently fixed on a bus full of “Armenian volunteers” and killed seven of them, the Washington Post reported.
Azerbaijan is Israel’s biggest oil supplier, a key recipient of Israeli arms, and a partner in a complicated three-way dance with Iran.