Israel, Jordan, PA to hold first-of-its-kind joint firefighting and rescue exercise

Israel will join Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, as well as three European countries, for a first-of-its-kind joint drill of their emergency services.

According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, the Middle East Forest Fire exercise, or MEFF, is slated to take place from October 22 to 26 in Jordan and Israel, and will include rescue forces from Italy, France, Spain and Croatia.

The exercise will test the capacity of all sides to cooperate in major rescue operations, including a focus on firefighting, rescues from collapsed buildings and other emergency situations.

The planning stage of the exercise is set to take place in Jordan before the field training begins in Israel.

Palestinian firefighters from the West Bank city of Jenin arrive to help extinguish a fire in the northern Israeli city of Haifa following a wildfire, on November 25, 2016. (AFP/Jack Guez)

The exercise will pit rescue crews against a forest fire in the Carmel region similar to the one that claimed 44 lives in 2010, as well as fires in the towns of Yatir and Amatzia. At Kibbutz Lahav in the south, rescuers will face a fire that threatens the village’s buildings and includes people trapped in its path. In the central city of Lod, forces will practice rescuing people from a building that collapsed after a gas explosion.

Jordan will send two helicopters, 60 rescuers, 40 fire engines and 15 medical teams, Israel Hayom reported. The Palestinian Authority is slated to send two firefighting planes, a command plane and transport planes, as well as 15 rescuers and 40 fire engines.

France, Italy, Spain, and Croatia will each send medical and rescue teams and firefighting planes.

Israel’s own contingent is set to include both civilian rescuers from the Fire and Rescue Services and military teams from the Home Front Command.

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