A group of 12 Israeli soldiers and commanders departed for Morocco on Sunday to participate in the international “African Lion 2023” military exercise.
It marks the first time that the Israel Defense Forces has actively participated in the two-week drill, after joining as an international military observer last year.
The 19th edition of the annual event, which features 8,000 service members from 18 countries, is co-organized by the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and the United States Army.
“Our collective ability to bring like-minded nations together for an exercise like this is truly impressive,” said Maj. Gen. Joel Tyler, commander of the United States Africa Command. “African Lion is the centerpiece of the AFRICOM exercise strategy, and one of the greatest U.S. exercises across the globe.”
According to the IDF, the Israeli forces “will focus on practicing various combat challenges that combine urban infantry warfare and underground warfare in which they specialize, and will conclude the training in a common exercise for all armies.”
The event kicked off on Sunday and runs until June 16, covering seven regions of the north African country—Tan Tan, Mehbes, Tiznit, Kenitra, Ben Guerir and Tifnit.
Israel and Morocco normalized relations on Dec. 10, 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, becoming the second African country after Egypt in 1978 to sign a diplomatic agreement recognizing the Jewish state.
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana was scheduled to fly to Rabat on Wednesday on an official visit to the Parliament of Morocco.
Ohana, a member of Israel’s ruling Likud Party, is the first Knesset speaker ever invited for a state visit to the parliament of a Muslim country. His parents were born in Morocco and immigrated to Israel in the 1950s.
“History is being made before our eyes, and it heralds the strengthening of the relationship between the two countries, greater closeness between the nations and expanding the circle of peace,” said Ohana in a written statement.