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Indian Naval Chief begins visit to Israel

India's Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma

TEL AVIV (PTI): India's Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma heading a high-level delegation began a four day visit to Israel, as New Delhi and Tel Aviv are poised to start joint development and production of futuristic weapon systems and platforms.

Defence sources here described the visit a part of "service to service cooperation" during which wide ranging defence cooperation between the countries will be reviewed.

Verma, invited by his Israeli counterpart Eliezer Marom, will also call upon Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior defence officials during his four day trip.

He will visit the Haifa cemetery Tuesday to lay a wreath on the memorial of fallen Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the liberation of Haifa during World War I.

A large number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in this region during the First World War and nearly 900 are cremated or buried in cemeteries across Israel.

A unique ceremony commemorating the sacrifice of Indian soldiers was observed this year on September 22 as part of the Haifa Day celebrations.

The Indian army commemorates September 23rd every year as Haifa Day, to pay its respects to the two brave Indian Cavalry Regiments that helped liberate the city in 1918 following a dashing cavalry action by the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.

In the autumn of that year, the Brigade was a part of the Allied Forces sweeping northwards through Palestine in what is seen as the last great cavalry campaign in history.

"No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the campaign. Machine gun bullets over and over again failed to stop the galloping horses even though many of them succumbed afterwards to their injuries", is how the Official History of the War (Military operation Egypt and Palestine: volume 2) describes the Indian troops bravery.

Captain Aman Singh Bahadur and Dafadar Jor Singh were awarded the Indian Order of Merit (IOM) and Captain Anop Singh and 2nd Lt Sagat Singh were awarded the Military Cross (MC) as recognition for their bravery in this battle.

Major Dalpat Singh (MC) is known in the annals of history as the Hero of Haifa for his critical role in the Liberation of the city.

India and Israel are said to be recently discussing the prospect of further expanding defence relationship with strategic implications.

The volume of defence business between the two countries can be gauged from the fact that Israel has already supplied Barak missiles to the navy, night fighting devices to the Army and the Air Force and improved the radar network of the Indian Air Forces supplying hitech electronic warfare systems and information technology.

The first of the three Phalcon airborne early warning radar systems (AWACS) supplied by Israel as part of a 1.1 billion USDs deal has given a big boost to India's reconnaissance capabilities.

As per local sources, India is Israel's single largest importer of its defence equipment constituting about 50 per cent of Israel's defence exports and about 30 per cent of India's imports.

India has also sought to replace weapons procurement from Israel with joint development projects, including potential sale of the jointly manufactured defence equipments to other countries.


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