The IDF Central Command this week completed the biggest exercise ever conducted in the West Bank in five years. The drill, which lasted four days, saw hundreds of regular and reserve troops simulate a variety of scenarios and emergency situations, such as settlement infiltrations, abductions of Israeli citizens, bombings, vehicular or shooting attacks, and largescale riots.
During the drill, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.Gadi Eisenkot, accompanied by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, received an assessment of the situation and an overview of the command’s capabilities in the area of intelligence during times of emergencies.
Security forces regularly step up their preparedness prior to holidays, regularly imposing closure on the West Bank to avoid tension and violence.
The exercise concluded on the 15th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Defensive Shield, the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six Day War.
The goal of Defensive Shield was to stop the terrorist attacks by Palestinians during the second intifada and was sparked by the March 27, 2002 suicide bombing by Hamas operative Abd al-Basset Oudeh at the Park Hotel in Netanya during a Passover Seder which killed 29 people and wounded 64 others.
Last week Shin Bet security service director Nadav Argaman warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the current calm in violence is deceptive and that Hamas and other terrorist cells will try to carry out attacks over Passover.
“The relative calm that we are experiencing at this time is quite deceptive. It’s misleading and deluding, because Hamas and the global jihadi infrastructure are trying every day to carry out terrorist attacks in Israeli territory,” he said, adding that “our goal is to ensure that the holidays are as quiet as possible.”
Since the beginning of the latest wave of violence in October 2015, numerous attacks by Hamas supporters and members have been thwarted in the West Bank. Over the month of March, several Hamas cells planning or responsible for terrorist activity in the region have been broken up by Israeli security forces in near-nightly raids in an effort to bring down the number of attacks.
According to Argaman, last year some 400 potential attacks were thwarted due in large part to “technological, intelligence and operational” developments by the IDF.
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