Sunday, May 11, 2014 8:16 pm
Israel offered Nigeria help on Sunday in locating over 200 schoolgirls abducted last month by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram in an attack that has drawn global condemnation and prompted some Western powers to provide assistance.
“Israel expresses deep shock at the crime against the girls,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office quoted him as telling Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan by phone.
“We are ready to help in finding the girls and fighting the cruel terrorism inflicted on you.”
The statement did not elaborate on how Israel might enlist in the search, with which British and U.S. experts are also helping. A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said he knew of no cooperation efforts under way.
But a separate statement issued by Nigeria’s presidency about the telephone conversation between Netanyahu and Jonathan elaborated on the assistance that Israel planned to provide.
Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said Netanyahu, offered to send a team of Israeli counter-terrorism experts to assist in the ongoing search and rescue of the abducted school girls in Chibok, Borno.
Abati said that Netanyahu expressed Israel’s total condemnation of the mass abductions and said that the team of experts from his country would soon arrive in Nigeria.
Netanyahu, according to Abati, says that the Israeli experts will work in collaboration with teams from the United States and Britain who are already in the country and their Nigerian counterparts to intensify the search for the girls.
Abati said that Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s willingness to give the government all possible support and assistance to overcome terrorism and insecurity.
He said that the president welcomed the offer by Netanyahu and briefed him on actions already being taken by Nigeria’s armed forces and security agencies to locate and rescue the girls.
Abati said President Jonathan added that Nigeria would be pleased to have Israel’s globally-acknowledged anti-terrorism expertise deployed to support its ongoing operations.
He said President Jonathan expressed optimism that with the entire international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria’s efforts, success would soon be achieved
Israel has defense ties with Nigeria, and has provided it in the past with surveillance drones.
Last September, Israel was among several countries that sent advisers to Kenya to assist in a stand-off with Islamist gunmen who attacked a mall in Nairobi.