Thousands of IDF troops drill war in the North, West Bank

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett: As much as Iran tries to build on Syrian soil, it will sink. Syria is becoming Iran’s Vietnam.

Israeli Defense Minister joins IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi for large-scale drill in the north. (photo credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE)
Israeli Defense Minister joins IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi for large-scale drill in the north.
(photo credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE)
Over a thousand IDF reservists are in the midst of a large-scale drill in the West Bank, training to stop terror threats against Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists as Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi toured a drill in the Golan Heights.
The weeklong drill in the West Bank began on Sunday with the call-up to the two battalions of reservists and will end on Thursday. It saw live-fire exercises in the field as well as simulators and Krav Maga courses for the reservists.
Colonel Ori Levi, Commander of the Central Command’s Lachish Training School, told The Jerusalem Post that he wanted to “challenge the troops” during the drill. According to Levy, to the soldier in the field, it doesn’t matter if there may be a group behind a cell – the lone wolves have to be stopped before carrying out an attack.
“On other fronts we use artillery or air power but in the West Bank you need to know how to deal with enemies which are much closer, be that by shooting at close range or by Krav Maga. We didn’t drill on how to look for Hamas – but how to stop and strike at those planning to carry out an attack.”
The reservists, Levy said, “are very professional. Ninety percent of those we called up came to the drill. I thought less would show up; the usual amount is between 80% and 85% showing up. I’m very proud to know that when called up they will be there.”
The IDF has significantly stepped up the scope and frequency of its combat training in order to improve its readiness. As part of the IDF’s five-year Gideon plan, the military has returned to 17 weeks of consecutive training, an increase from the 13 weeks soldiers trained for the past 15 years.
But, according to Levy, the IDF needs to train even more.
IDF reservists take part in large-scale drill in the West Bank. (phto credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)IDF reservists take part in large-scale drill in the West Bank. (phto credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
While calmer than four years ago when there were almost daily attacks against Israelis, over the past year ongoing violence in the West Bank by Palestinians has killed several civilians and IDF soldiers.
However, according to Israel’s top military officer, the “central strategic challenge of the State of Israel lies in the northern arena,” where Iran continues to consolidate its forces in Syria and to work with Hezbollah on it’s precision-missile project.
The IDF has been carrying out several large-scale drills in the Golan Heights for war with Iran and Hezbollah, which have morphed into an army since the Second Lebanese War, with more advanced weaponry and more mobile, able-to-draft, large amounts of fighters, with the ability to deploy them quickly into enemy territory.
With tensions high on the northern front, Israel’s defense establishment has warned that any outbreak of conflict on the northern border will not be confined to Lebanon or Syria, but along the entire front as well. It is expected that there will be violence in the West Bank, as well as rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
The drill attended by Bennett and Kochavi simulated combat in the north and saw troops from the armored corps, as well as troops from infantry, combat engineering, Air Force, and practice combat in a complex, crowded and urban area, combined with advanced intelligence and offensive capabilities.
That, the Defense Ministry said in a statement, “would lead to the defeat and destruction of the enemy by the IDF.
“The mullahs in Iran sit and send us their octopus arms to make it difficult and terrorize the citizens of Israel. As much as Iran tries to build on Syrian soil, it will sink into the Syrian sands. Syria is becoming Iran’s Vietnam. We will increase the pressure. Iran has nothing to look for on Syrian soil. We will continue to maintain the borders of the country,” Bennett said during his tour of the drill in the Golan Heights.
IDF reservists take part in large-scale drill in the West Bank. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)IDF reservists take part in large-scale drill in the West Bank. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
However, Levy said, “unlike the South or North...in the Central Command it’s a big challenge because everyone is together, and inside that, there are terror operatives that we have to stop to protect our civilians. There are no borders where we can say this is Israel and this Lebanon; troops have to be able to allow civilians to live their regular lives, while at the same time make sure to stop terrorists.”
On Wednesday morning, the Shin Bet announced that a 50-man strong cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was behind the deadly Dolev Spring attack that claimed the life of 17-year-old Rina Schnerb, was planning additional deadly attacks.
“The security forces and the Shin Bet uncovered a vast network of terrorists from the Popular Front in the West Bank, the same network that was responsible for the murder of Rina,” Bennett said. “Rina – at the end we reached the terrorists. We will continue to chase every terrorist before they attack us.”