Serbia has officially expressed concern over Israel’s F-16 fighters jets participated in a military parade in Croatia on Sunday to mark 23 years to the country’s victory in Operation Storm, raising the ire of neighboring country Serbia.
The three F-16D fighter jets of the Israel Air Forces joined Croatian MiG-21 jets and flying over the city of Knin, where the annual victory parade took place. The parade celebrates Croatia’s recapture of territories seized by Serb rebels in response to Croatia’s declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia.
The fact that Israeli F-16D fighter jets and their pilots actively took part in a military parade commemorating victory in Operation Storm, triggered harsh criticism from Belgrade.
Serbia’s Ambassador to Israel also said that his country was “deeply disappointed about the participation of Israeli pilots and fighter jets today, because for us Operation Storm in 1995 was a kind of pogrom. It was the biggest exodus of a nation since the Second World War.”
“Israel and the Jewish people have had a difficult past and should understand the difficulties and sufferings of other nations,” – noted Milutin Stanojevic.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday that “Hitler wanted a world without Jews; Croatia and its policy wanted a Croatia without Serbs.”
It is worth noting that the Croatian government plans to replace its aging fleet of Mikoyan MiG-21 aircraft with new fourth-generation aircraft. The Israeli fighter jets visited Croatia as part of a demonstration tour pending their sale.
According to the Jane’s Defence Weekly, on 29 March Croatia officially selected the fighter offer from Israel and began contract negotiations. On offer were 12 used Israeli F-16 C/D Block 30 fighter jets, provided to Israel through the Peace Marble II programme and further upgraded locally to the Barak 2020 standard. Ten are to be single-seaters and two twin seaters.
The acquisition of 12 aircraft is estimated to be worth around HRK2.9 billion (USD480.3 million).