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A growing number of African nations are expressing interest in sending soldiers for search-and-rescue training by the IDF's Home Front Command, Col. Shalom Ben-Arieh, commander of the National Search and Rescue and Civil Defense School, has told The Jerusalem Post.
Two weeks ago, Ben-Arieh completed teaching 24 Kenyan military officers search-and-rescue techniques at the Home Front Command's training facility at the Tzrifin Base near Ramle. The officers who participated in the intensive three-week course, held in English, were trained as instructors and are supposed to set up search-and-rescue teams in Kenya.
On Saturday, Ben-Arieh led a rescue and medical team to Cyprus to assist in extinguishing major fires.
Israel, which is a world leader in the development and implementation of search-and-rescue techniques, sent Home Front Command soldiers to Kenya three times in the last decade, most recently in January 2006 after a five-story building collapsed in Nairobi. At the time, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki asked OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Gershon to assist his country in establishing its own search-and-rescue team.
After a year of planning, which included translating all of the Home Front Command's search-and-rescue training booklets from Hebrew to English, Ben-Arieh and his team opened Israel's first English-language search-and-rescue course. After the Kenyans begin setting up their rescue teams, Ben-Arieh and his men will travel to Kenya to assist in training their soldiers.
"We at the Home Front Command try to cooperate with anyone in the world when it comes to saving lives," Ben-Arieh said. "We have a reputation and the knowledge, and we are not shy about sharing this with the rest of the world."
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