(photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office)
In the shadow of ongoing tensions along the border, the IDF launched a
large-scale surprise drill on Sunday evening, calling up 2,000 reservists to the
North as a test of its ability to quickly engage Hezbollah in
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was not informed ahead of time
about the drill, but sources close to Ya’alon were quoted as playing down the
importance of the exercise.
The drill, which will last until Thursday and
will involve live-fire exercises, is aimed at assessing the army’s readiness and
operational flexibility, a senior military source said.
It is the first
exercise held on this large of a scale for several years, and comes amid
tensions with Hezbollah and ongoing instability in neighboring Syria.
US is reportedly considering the possibility of intervening in Syria following
reports of chemical weapons use by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On Sunday, an Iranian official threatened that any intervention in Syria would
result in attacks on Israel.
“Reality forces us to prepare these
abilities. The reserves understand this,” the source said.
involves Lebanon, but it could also be Syria,” he added.
Over the past 24
hours, the IDF’s Etgar Formation, a part of the Northern Command, began calling
up the reservists without prior warning.
After being called up, the
reservists were told that their mission had changed, and that they had to deploy
accordingly within 48 hours.
“There’s a need for high alert, via a
surprise drill. This is a part of our training system,” the source
The scenario at the heart of the drill involves a sudden escalation
with Hezbollah, leading to ground maneuver inside Lebanon.
Last week, a
drone from Lebanon attempted to infiltrate Israeli air space near Haifa before
being shot down by an IAF F-16 fighter jet.
In February, a tank battalion
from the IDF’s 401st Armored Brigade completed an extensive drill on the Golan
Heights. The 9th Eshet Battalion, made up of Israel’s most advanced tanks, the
Merkava Mark 4, practiced combat situations involving potential northern fronts
and dealing with multiple casualties.
At the same time, the IDF’s Nahal
infantry brigade also completed a major drill on the Golan Heights in February,
simulating a surprise development. All Nahal Brigade soldiers were suddenly
mobilized to the Golan to test their readiness and ability to join a battle
“We are on the highest alert now to carry out any mission,”
Lt.-Col. Oshik Azulai, commander of Nahal’s 932nd Granite Brigade said at
In September 2012, the IDF held a surprise drill and practiced
a rapid mobilization of Artillery Corps units from the West Bank to the North.