Throughout the whole period of hostilities in Artsakh, which started on September 27, 2020 and even before that, for several months, military cargo was transported in the direction of Israel-Turkey-Azerbaijan. These days, the fact of the transfer of weapons from Israel to Azerbaijan is in the center of attention of the international media.
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to observe the flights of the company transporting military equipment from Israel to Azerbaijan in recent months.
The flights of the Silk Way West
According to Flightradar24.com, on September 29, 2020, at about 12:20 pm Armenian time, a plane of the Silk Way West Company owned by the President of Azerbaijan, departed from Eilat Airport in Israel to Turkey, carrying Ilyushin IL-76TD-90VD (with registration number 4K-AZ101). On the same day, at around 9 pm, the same plane left for Baku.
The flight route ends in Turkey, but the arrival in Baku is proven by the Baku-Ankara flight of the same plane on September 30 at around 5:00p.m. On September 30, the same plane returned to Baku from Ankara.
Azerbaijani Silk Way is a private cargo airline. It is part of the Aliyev family’s aviation business, Silk Way Group. The OCCRP has published a large-scale investigation into the organization’s relationship with the Aliyev family and the contracts signed with the United States Department of Defense.
On September 24, “Ilyushin” with the same registration number 4K-AZ101 flew in the direction Azerbaijan-Turkey-Israel, then in the opposite direction. Earlier, on September 10, the plane with registration number 4K-AZ40 carried out flights in the same direction.
On September 3, “Ilyushin” made a direct flight from Israel to Baku with registration number 4K-AZ41.
Following the hostilities in the Tavush region in Armenia, on July 16, Israel, again, most likely supplied weapons to Baku in a direct flight to Eilat-Baku. Since August 5th, the flights were through the territory of Turkey. There were flights on August 9 and September 2 as well.
In an interview with the American website axios.com, Hikmet Hajiyev, an adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, tried to refute the information about receiving weapons from Israel, noting that the Azerbaijani “Ilyushins” do not transport weapons, but may fly for commercial purposes. According to him, the Russian-made planes carrying heavy equipment were probably transporting “fruits and vegetables”.
As it was mentioned, these planes are heading to Azerbaijan from the “Eilat” airport in the south of Israel, in the vicinity of which there are several military facilities, as well as the Eilat military base situated not far from it.
Israel’s contribution to the Turkish-Azerbaijani arsenal
In recent years, Israel has become one of the main suppliers of weapons to Azerbaijan. Back in 2016, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that they had bought $ 5 billion worth of weapons and ammunition from Israel.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), from 2013 to 2017 Azerbaijan acquired 30% of its weapons from Israel. That percentage doubled from 2015 to 2019, reaching 60%. The air force of Azerbaijan now has Israeli-made Hermes, Orbiter, IAI Heron and other types of unmanned aerial vehicles.