Saturday, March 2nd | 22 Adar I 5784

April 29, 2021 2:45 pm

Indonesian Navy Chief Thanks Israeli Sailors for Sympathy After Fatal Loss of Submarine

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The Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402 in Surabaya, East Java Province, Indonesia, September 25, 2014. Photo: M. Risyal Hidayat / Antara Photo / via REUTERS.

The president of Israel’s association of retired submariners exchanged letters of condolence with the chief of staff of the Indonesian navy following the loss of an Indonesian submarine with all hands onboard.

The KRI Nanggala-4o2 sank at some point on or slightly before April 21, and after a massive search, debris from the submarine was discovered on April 24, followed by further discoveries of pieces of the wreck. All 53 sailors aboard the ship were lost.

Eran Cicurel, the foreign editor for Israeli public broadcaster Kan, tweeted copies of the letters on Thursday.

In a letter to Admiral Yudo Margono, Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy, Cap. (ret.) Eyal Ben-Zion, president of Dolphin-Israeli Submariner Association, wrote, “The Dolphin Association that represents all Israeli submariners, extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the Indonesian submarine force and families of those lost aboard the submarine.”

Noting Israel’s loss of the submarine Dakar in 1968, Ben-Zion said, “thus we are well aware of what such an occurrence means to the family and friends of the submariners onboard, and indeed to the entire Indonesian navy.”

“The loss of any submarine and its crew is a source of concern and genuine anguish to all submariners across the globe, regardless of nationality or religion,” he said.

Margono wrote back expressing “our deepest gratitude for the sympathy and sincere condolences from your country.”

“We lost our best heroes,” he said of the accident, “but we believe Allah bestows blessings on our departed heroes, strength for their families, and the courage for the Indonesian Navy to continue serving the best for our country.”

He then expressed wishes that Allah “always bestows grace and protection for all of us.”

Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic ties, but rumors have swirled in recent months that the countries may be inching toward warmer relations.

In January, the Times of Israel reported that Indonesia was close to normalizing ties with Israel in the last days of the Trump administration, but that the former president’s term ended before an agreement could be finalized.

Most recently, on April 1,  Israeli ambassador to Singapore Sagi Karni told the South China Morning Post that Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia could have “fruitful relations” with Israel in the wake of the Abraham Accords.

“We are open and willing and interested in having good relations with all countries,” he said. “We have nothing against Malaysia; we have nothing against Indonesia.”

“We’d like to have normal diplomatic, political relations; we would like to have also, very importantly, normal economic relations,” he added. “But we cannot force anybody to be our friends.”

Both Indonesia and Malaysia have officially remained cool toward the Abraham Accords, holding to the position that they will not normalize relations with Israel until the Palestinian issue is resolved.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world, with 270 million people, the vast majority of whom are adherents to Islam.

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