The IDF’s Etzion Regional Brigade completed a four-day intensive exercise this week, drilling responses to a range of security incidents that could erupt at any time in the West Bank.
The scenarios at the heart of the exercises were far from theoretical, Maj. Ayalon Peretz, Operations Branch officer for the brigade, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, adding that on the ground, units were encountering a rise in violent disturbances.
“We completed the drill last night. It began on Sunday. We prepared for a lengthy period. It’s designed to ensure that the brigade is ready for routine security missions and for an escalation in Judea and Samaria,” Peretz said.
“We divided the drill into two stages: studying combat procedure protocol in the first stage, and operational practice in the second,” he added.
The IDF did not hold this drill because of any particular security evaluation, Peretz emphasized. These exercises are set in advance at the start of each year. There’s no year we did not hold a brigade- wide drill of this size,” he explained.
Nevertheless, he continued, no one in the brigade would be surprised if an escalation in Palestinian violence did occur.
“We saw this in 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, which had an influence on Judea and Samaria, sparking large-scale disturbances. We are now seeing a rise of ‘popular violence,’ characterized by rocks and firebombings,” he stated.
During the exercise, the brigade’s battalions practiced responses to mass rioting, rock throwing on roads, and more extreme scenarios, such as the infiltration of a gunman into an Israeli community, a suicide bomb attack on a bus, and an operation to free hostages taken by a terror cell.
“We also drilled the things we deal with daily,” Peretz said. “One of the aspects we stressed was keeping in touch with police in the Israeli home front along our borders.
Our connection with the Border Police, which secures Jerusalem’s seam zone, is very important. The same is true of police in districts to our west, like Kiryat Gat and Beit Shemesh.”
Peretz described his brigade as a guardian of Jerusalem, securing the capital from its south and east.
The Etzion Regional Brigade is made up of a range of enlisted battalions from the Border Police, the infantry, artillery corps, armored corps, and the military police.
“Our challenge is to create a synergy and common language among the units. Every few months, enlisted battalions are rotated away. Our challenge is to maintain an organizational memory, and knowledge of the ground,” Peretz said.