Kenya and Israel will strengthen security cooperation in the face of growing global terrorism threats.
The agreement covers training, intelligence sharing and systems use, especially in new technology, in the war against terror. It was among resolutions yesterday following bilateral talks at State House, Nairobi, between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first sitting Premier of the Jewish state to visit the country.
The visit is rich with symbolism as it coincides with the 40th anniversary of the raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda by Israeli commandos to free hostages in operation Thunderbolt, which Kenya helped with logistics.
Earlier yesterday, Netanyahu, whose elder brother Yoni was killed in the 1976 commando raid to free passengers aboard an Air France plane hijacked by Palestinians, laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta, whose government at the time authorised the Israeli aircraft to refuel in Nairobi. Netanyahu, during an international press conference at State House, thanked Kenya for the help as he praised the successful operation as one that dealt a blow to international terrorism and promised to stand by Kenya in the fight against terror.
Though Netanyahu declined to divulge details of the partnership, he said his government had a lot to offer in terms of security, particularly intelligence sharing to pre-empt attacks and also in the development sphere.
Of particular concern to the leaders was extremist activities. “We have entered into various agreements to enhance security. At this point, it will not be practical to go into details. There is a raging battle with outlawed groups like Isis, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab. Israel can help in many areas,” said Netanyahu.
He reiterated: “When it comes to fighting crime, when we know in advance an attack is going to take place, we react and prevent it. This has tremendously saved many lives. Israel is doing this and we will share intelligence with friends in Kenya and Africa.”
The leaders reiterated that the relations between Kenya and Israel, which has seen security officers especially from the elite squad (Recce) trained, should be enhanced. President Uhuru said it was befitting that the historic security cooperation between the countries was a priority for both nations.
“The Prime Minister and the Israeli people continue to extend invaluable support to Kenya; helping us build capacity and bolster internal and regional security. We are in ongoing talks about how to strengthen and expand that cooperation so that we can gain from Israel’s expertise in cyber-security, and other areas,” the President explained. He added: “Kenya stands to gain a lot from this partnership.
From training to strategic thinking to systems use, especially in new technology in the war (on terror), are some of the benefits we look forward to. We will also gain immensely in sharing experiences because Israel has faced challenges much longer than we as a country.
“Tactically, we will learn a lot from Israel. Our partner will be strong in intelligence sharing between Israel, Kenya, the region and the African continent. Terrorism is the greatest threat to our security and peace in the continent and globally,” said President Uhuru. Netanyahu noted that the partnership was important.