The death toll in the Gaza Strip exceeded 20 by Wednesday as Israel continued the bombing campaign it launched with the extrajudicial execution a day earlier of a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad resistance group.
Jordan has deplored the Israeli attacks as an aggression against innocent civilians.
But as Palestinians in Gaza braced for what could be a prolonged Israeli assault claiming many more lives, evidence emerged that Jordanian warplanes are taking part in military exercises alongside Israel’s air force.
The claim was made by a Dutch aviation analyst who posted evidence on Twitter indicating that Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 warplanes are informally involved in the Blue Flag 2019 exercise hosted by Israel.
It has been bolstered by an Israeli military reporter.
Maps and data posted by the Dutch analyst, citing the flight tracking service FlightRadar24.com, show Jordanian military aircraft flying intermittently along the Jordan-Israel border and over Israeli-controlled territory since 3 November, with additional flights reported Wednesday.Shai Levy, a military reporter with the Israeli news website Mako, posted what he claimed was a photo of a Jordanian warplane at Israel’s Ovda airbase. Formally the countries taking part in Blue Flag 2019 are Israel, Germany, Italy, Greece and the United States. “Officially, [Royal Jordanian Air Force] is not a participant in the exercises, but evidence is strong,” the Dutch analyst observed. “I don’t expect anyone to officially confirm this.” While Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994, popular calls to cancel the pact are frequently voiced.
Tensions between the two countries have increased recently after Israel subjected two Jordanian citizens to prolonged detention without charge or trial.
In 2015, Israeli media reported that Jordanian air force pilots paid a “working visit” to Israel.
That year, “Jordanian fighter pilots trained closely with their Israeli counterparts at a US-hosted air force exercise,” according to The Times of Israel, citing a US official.
Requests for comment have been sent to the office of the Jordanian prime minister, who doubles as defense minister, the foreign ministry and the Jordanian embassy in Washington at their publicly listed email addresses.
This article will be updated with any response.