The Moroccan army said in a statement that “a delegation of 12 soldiers and a commander from the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion left Sunday (Israel) to participate in the African Lion 2023 maneuvers in Morocco,” the largest military exercise in Africa.
The Israeli army announced on Monday that a number of its soldiers will participate “for the first time” in an “effective” manner in military exercises on Moroccan soil, the “African Lion 2023” maneuvers, which will start on Tuesday.
“This is the first time that the Israeli army has actively participated in these international maneuvers on Moroccan soil,” the statement said.
The Golani Brigade is an elite infantry unit of the Israeli army, which constantly carries out missions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The African Lion maneuvers, which are jointly organized annually by Morocco and the United States, will take place in their 19th edition from Tuesday to June 16, and nearly eight thousand military personnel from 18 countries will participate in them.
In its statement, the Israeli army indicated that in the next two weeks, the soldiers will focus on training in various combat situations that combine guerrilla warfare in cities and underground warfare, and will conclude with joint training for all participating armies.
Last year, the Israeli army participated in the “African Lion” maneuvers, but only at the level of international military observers, that is, without any participation of its soldiers on Moroccan soil.
According to the General Staff of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, the African Lion 2023 maneuvers will take place in seven regions of the Kingdom.
The Moroccan General Staff stated that the maneuvers this year include, in particular, “land, sea, air and joint tactical exercises, day and night, a joint exercise for special forces, airborne operations, a field military hospital that provides surgical-medical services for the benefit of the population, and exercises to combat weapons of mass destruction.”
Morocco and Israel have been working to accelerate their cooperation on the military, security, trade and tourism levels, since the normalization of relations between them in December 2020 within the framework of the Abrahamic Accords, which were mediated by the United States and resulted in the normalization of relations between Israel and a number of Arab countries.
In return for normalizing its relations with Israel, Morocco obtained from the United States recognition of “Moroccan sovereignty” over Western Sahara, which is disputed with the Polisario Front.
After the visit to the Kingdom by the Israeli Minister of Transport, Miri Regev, it is expected that Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana will arrive in Rabat on Wednesday on an official “historic” visit. This will be the first official visit by a speaker of the Israeli parliament, at the invitation of his Moroccan counterpart.
Ohana, the former Israeli Minister of Internal Security and a leader in the right-wing Likud party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is of Moroccan descent. Although popular movements in favor of the Palestinians have weakened in Morocco, sympathy for the Palestinian cause is still widespread.