Serbia Disappointed with Israel’s Participation in Operation Storm Celebrations

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 6, 2018 – The fact that Israeli fighter jets and their pilots took part in a parade to celebrate the 1995 Operation Storm triggered harsh criticism from Belgrade.

“Serbia is deeply disappointed about the participation of Israeli pilots and fighter jets today, because for us Operation Storm in 1995 was a kind of pogrom,” the country’s ambassador to Israel Milutin Stanojević told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

“It was the biggest exodus of a nation since the Second World War,” Stanojević said, adding that Israel’s participation in Croatia’s victory celebration “is not a friendly gesture toward Serbia.” For the Croatian side, maybe these are days of triumph, but for the Serbian side these are days of mourning,” Stanojević added.

On Sunday, two Israeli F-16 flew over the city of Knin, together with Croatian MiG-21s as part of celebrations marking the 23rd anniversary of Operation Storm.

“We mourn the exodus. More than 2,500 people died. The resting place of many is not known. More than 250,000 people fled Croatia, mostly civilians. This is not the time or the place where another country should be involved,” Stanojević said.

Israel is the first foreign country to actively participate in Croatia’s annual parade to celebrate Operation Storm, the ambassador said. The Times of Israel however cited sources in Croatia who said that US officials also attended this year’s celebration of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Veterans Day at Knin.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the participation of Israeli jets in the celebration in Croatia.

The media in Belgrade however, cited the Times of Israel as saying that the participation of three Israeli F-16 Barak jets is taking place against a backdrop of Israeli-Croatian arms deals worth half a billion dollars.

In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced their plans to move forward with the sale of about 30 Israeli F-16s to Croatia. The deal is expected to be completed by 2020.

The Israeli Defence Forces defended its participation in the event, saying in a statement that the jets were deployed in Croatia as part of a military cooperation arrangement, and that participating in the event was part of that “strategic cooperation between both countries.” The statement also noted the impending Israeli-Croatian arms deal.


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