Tsahal is taking part in a military exercise in Morocco as an observer, for the first time

For the first time, IDF officers participated as observers in a major military exercise led by the United States, which took place in Morocco and neighboring African countries, which ended on Thursday.

The U.S. Africa Command said the annual joint exercise with Morocco – called the “African Lion” – involved about 7,500 military personnel and ran from 6-30. June in Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and in Tunisia, a country which, incidentally, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Troops from Brazil, Chad, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom joined the host nations, AFRICOM said.

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The exercise included several live fire, sea and air exercises, “a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response exercise” and other “humanitarian civilian aid exercises” according to AFRICOM.

Israel sent two officers from the Israeli army as well as the head of the Middle East and North Africa division of the Ministry of Defense to the Political and Political-Military Bureau, which is also the Defense Attaché in Morocco.

“Israel’s participation in this exercise is a further step in strengthening security relations between the Ministries of Defense and the armies of the two countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

Soldiers jump from a plane during the exercise ‘African Lion’ 2022 in Morocco, June 2022. (Credit: Christopher Hal via the Ministry of Defense)

Morocco normalized ties with the Jewish state in December 2020, shortly after similar agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

In March, senior Israeli military officials completed a first official trip to Morocco, where the parties signed an agreement to bring the two armies together.

“The possibilities for military cooperation were mentioned in terms of training as well as in the operational and intelligence field,” the army said at the time.

Several senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, also visited Morocco and signed cooperation agreements, including in the fields of technology, security, military and trade. Last week, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked visited the North African country.

Morocco severed ties with Israel in 2000 following the outbreak of the second Intifada. But when Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara as part of the December 2020 agreement, diplomatic ties between Morocco and the Jewish state could be restored.

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