The joint exercise is the first practical result of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s initiative to build a wide-ranging system of emergency cooperation between the two countries.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus conducted their first joint firefighting exercise this week.

The joint three-day exercise, which took place in Cyprus, is the first practical result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initiative to build a wide-ranging system of emergency cooperation between the countries, including firefighting and handling of natural disasters.

The objective of the international collaboration is to construct a web of strategic relationships and bilateral and multilateral cooperation which will be functional during emergency situations.

The exercise was also the first time Israeli firefighting teams trained abroad.

About 160 people from all three countries participated in the drill, including three firefighting planes from Israel, Israel Air Force (IAF) coordination teams and about 50 Israeli firefighters; 20 Cypriot fire trucks, the Cypriot forestry firefighting department, a Cypriot Air Force rescue helicopter and about 100 firefighters; a Greek  firefighting helicopter and approximately 20 Greek firefighters.

“The promotion of the strategic cooperation in a sphere such as firefighting in the local and regional public and media realms provides the decision makers from all sides with political leeway vis-à-vis neighboring countries, and also provides additional flexibility in the promotion of other endeavors of strategic cooperation,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which led the Israeli delegation, said in a statement.

Cyprus, Greece and Israel signed a pact in January aimed at strengthening cooperation and bolstering stability in a region facing many challenges.

The pact covers energy matters, including newly found offshore gas reserves, tourism and cooperation on water resources.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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