The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is launching its largest combat exercise in more than 20 years on Tuesday to test plans for a future conflict with Hezbollah on its northern border.
The exercise is expected to last ten days and will include its multi-layered missile defense system and tens of thousands of personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Ground Forces Intelligence, and Cyber defense teams.
The exercise will focus only on the border with Lebanon but military sources said that a potential future conflict would likely include the border with Syria due to Hezbollah’s entrenchment in Syria where it is fighting alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The IDF said the purpose of the exercise “is to test the fitness of the Northern Command and the relevant battalions during an emergency.” He added that it was based on the assumption that in a future conflict the IDF would be required to bring Hezbollah to a situation in which it “either has no ability or desire to attack anymore.”
Hezbollah’s main military threat comes from its stockpile of more than 130,000 missiles. Israeli intelligence officials estimate that Hezbollah has the capacity to fire 1,500-2,000 rockets into Israel per day, compared to the 150-180 per day during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
The combat exercise is also reportedly preparing for a situation in which Hezbollah infiltrates Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties. One scenario will include large scale evacuations and preparations for Hezbollah fighters entering Moshav Shavei Tzion, 15 kilometres from the Lebanese border, while other enemy forces stage an attack at Gesher Benot Yaakov in the Golan Heights.
In June, the IDF completed a large scale three-day training exercise in Cyprus. Approximately 500 Israeli army commandos and 200 Israel Air Force personnel were involved. The exercise attempted to simulate the conditions that Israeli forces would potentially face in Lebanon.
[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]