(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
"The IDF is ready and prepared for any mission that we give it", the office of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reported Tuesday.
Lieberman made the statement while visiting a military drill in the south of the country. The division drill, which is to last until Thursday, will see the 162nd Armored Division’s 401st Brigade simulate the capturing of Gaza City by IDF troops.
The minister was joined by the Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Southern Command Chief Herzi Halevi.
The drill, which is taking place near Beersheba as well as several Bedouin towns in the Negev, also sees troops from the armored, infantry, engineering and artillery corps train for a variety of scenarios inside enemy territory including handling the local civilian population.
Captain Sagi Cohen, who is taking part in the drill, told The Jerusalem Post that the drill will focus on tactics and lessons from Operation Protective Edge, the last conflict with the Hamas terror group. Soldiers taking part in the exercises will practice fighting in tunnels as well as in urban and open areas combat.
“We understand that all of Gaza has tunnels underneath it, something that we didn’t understand in Operation Protective Edge. Urban combat is not clean; there could be tunnels anywhere,” Cohen said.
While the IDF maintained that the exercises had been planned in advance “as part of the annual training program,” they come as tensions have once again risen along the border with the Hamas-run coastal enclave.
According to Hebrew press reports, a senior IDF officer in southern command said that the 162nd Division would be scrambled to the border if needed.
Cohen added that his troops are prepared. “We don’t make decisions – but if the decision is made that we need to go to war the troops are ready and we will do what is needed.”
“We want to be as prepared as possible,” he said, adding that “we are ready for war with Gaza, even if it began yesterday.”
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