A week after Hamas held a large-scale exercise in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of IDF soldiers participated in a drill along the Gaza border on Monday night.
The 11-hour exercise, which began at 2:00 AM under the command of Brig.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs of the Gaza Division, saw Southern Command forces train in border communities as well as in large southern cities such as Ashkelon, Netivot and Ofakim in preparation for another possible war with Hamas and terrorist attacks emanating from the coastal enclave.
According to the IDF, the exercise was meant to test forces’ preparedness in regards to sudden, surprising terrorist infiltrations through terrorist tunnels into populated Israeli territory in the South of the country.
A senior official in the Southern Command stated: “The exercise simulates a variety of scenarios at the front as well as deeper into the fighting. We are practicing here an infiltration scenario in which terrorists will infiltrate Israel through terrorist tunnels on motorcycles."
The scenario of terrorists on motorcycles is derived from an incident during Operation Protective Edge where the army discovered motorbikes in a Hamas attack tunnel. Authorities believed that the bikes were to be used by Hamas for rapid raids into Israel where they would kidnap or kill Israeli civilians or soldiers and make a rapid retreat back into Gaza.
In the drill, soldiers pretended to be terrorists using motorcycles to attack an army base near the Gaza border fence.
The drill, which focused on the cooperation between the navy, air force and ground forces, also saw for the first time police from local regional councils taking part. “Here, too, we divided our forces to decide which force does what and in which part. The exercise was held in direct collaboration with the police,” he elaborated.
According to a senior IDF officer, the drill also included “several extreme scenarios,” including scenarios of infiltration via the sea. The drill also included the evacuation of schools in the Eshkol region as well as testing how the army would respond to infiltrations into Israeli border communities and attacks on troops and military outposts.
The IDF also conducted an exercise along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, including testing the incoming rocket alert system.
The IDF emphasized that both drills were not due to any threat but planned in advance as part of its yearly exercises to maintain the competence and preparedness of the troops.