Israeli and Palestinian firefighters participate in joint exercise in Jenin
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Israeli and Palestinian firefighters participate in joint exercise in Jenin

Rescuers douse flames in four locations, in drill overseen by Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Israeli and Palestinian firetrucks in Jenin on March 19, 2019. (Credit: COGAT)
Israeli and Palestinian firetrucks in Jenin on March 19, 2019. (Credit: COGAT)

Israeli and Palestinian firefighters participated in a joint firefighting and rescue exercise on Tuesday in the northern West Bank.

Two Israeli officials and one Palestinian Authority official oversaw the exercise, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the branch of the Defense Ministry responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Israeli and Palestinian firefighters extinguished simulated fires in four locations, the COGAT statement said, adding that they used six Israeli firefighting airplanes, six Israeli firetrucks and two Palestinian firetrucks.

During one of the simulated fires, the firefighters evacuated a school, the statement said.

A spokesman for the PA Civil Defense declined to comment on the exercise.

Lt. Col. Saleem Saad, an Israeli defense official in Jenin, spoke highly of exercises like the one that took place on Tuesday.

“Every year we coordinate exercises like this,” Saad said, according to COGAT.

“What’s so important about these exercises is improving the knowledge and fitness of both Israeli and Palestinian firefighters in the Judea and Samaria region. We will continue to train these firefighters with the goal of saving lives across the region,” he added, referring to the West Bank by its Biblical names.

In the past year, Israeli and Palestinian firefighters have participated in approximately 10 joint exercises.

In late 2016, some 40 Palestinian firefighters assisted their Israeli counterparts in putting out flames in Haifa and the Jerusalem foothills.

Those fires either destroyed or damaged hundreds of apartments.

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