Cyprus Mail

Cyprus and Israel are inextricably linked says defence minister

cypisrael christos photo
Photo: Christos Theodorides

The 2,000 Israeli babies born in Cyprus after the World War II created an umbilical link between the two countries, Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides said on Thursday.

The minister was speaking at the annual memorial event for the closing of the WWII internment camps, held at the site of the monument dedicated to over 50,00 Jewish holocaust survivors who found temporary refuge in Cyprus on their way to their homeland after the end of the war.

“This monument serves as a permanent testament to the long-standing Cypriot-Israeli friendship,” Petrides said.

Close people to people ties were forged in the period 1946-1949, he added, when Cypriots provided as much help as possible to Jewish refugees stranded in internment camps in Cyprus over a period of three years.

The last internment camp closed its gates in February 1949.

“Anyone who gets to know and realise the herculean efforts made by thousands of Israelis to reach their homeland after World War II can then understand and appreciate the strength and resilience of Israel,” the minister said.

More than 50,000 Jews arrived in Cyprus after fleeing Europe in the aftermath of World War II to reach their homeland.

“The abhorrent Holocaust was followed by its survivors long and arduous journey to Israel faced with many obstacles in the way,” the minister said.

Defence Minister Charalambos PetridesTo preserve the history, the defence ministry and of the national guard established a monument within the former military hospital, which was the birthplace of over 2,000 Jewish children.

For three years, from 1946 until February 1949 when the various internment camps closed, many Cypriots made every effort to alleviate the hardships of daily life for the stranded Jewish refugees living in the camps in Karaolos, Xylotymvou and Dhekelia or even helping them to escape and reach Israel.

“Cypriots often made the extra mile for offering help and assistance with exemplary sense of humanitarianism and compassion.”

Relatives and descendants of families from the village of Deryneia that provided a helping hand to the stranded Jewish refugees on their way to Eretz were present at the event.

“Close personal friendships and people to people links between Cypriots and Jews were established. The fact that more than 2,000 babies were born in Cyprus also created an umbilical link between our two countries,” Petrides said.

He added that over his two and half years of service as a defence minister, the strategic defence cooperation and partnership of the two countries advanced in all areas and levels including high level consultations and armaments.

In June, a large scale Exercise AGAPINOR took place in parts of the land, sea and airspace of Cyprus, while parts of the armed forces also trained in Israel.

“We have a strategic defence cooperation based on mutual trust and shared interest for the security and prosperity of our region which I am hopeful that it will become stronger in the future.”

The memorial event takes place on an annual basis, in the month of February, for paying tribute to the Cypriot-Israeli bonds of friendship.

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