IDF holds drill simulating jihadist attack

Security source says inter-organizational cooperation is good.

June 24, 2013 05:03
2 minute read.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz during the surprise IDF drill, June 23, 2013.

IDF drill 370. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman’s Office)

The IDF together with the Shin Bet, Israel Police and Magen David Adom held a surprise drill on Sunday simulating a massive terrorist attack perpetrated by global jihadi elements, involving multiple incidents and dozens of civilian casualties.

The drill began at 5 a.m. and ended toward 10 p.m. on Sunday.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz during the surprise IDF drill, June 23, 2013. Photo: IDF Spokesman’s Office

The simulated terror attacks were concentrated in three centers, with each center representing a cluster of attacks.

“We practiced things we think can happen, in very difficult circumstances,” the source said.

The unannounced exercise, which was sprung by the IDF’s Operations Branch, was based on the scenario of terrorists infiltrating the country from a neighboring state and targeting crowded areas such as hotels and a dining area in a moshav.

A senior security source cited the crumbling Syrian state to the north, where radical elements were increasingly active, and Egypt’s shaky grip on the Sinai Peninsula, which is also home to jihadi elements, as factors that led to the decision to hold the exercise.

“We understand that global jihad forces are organizing themselves in these areas,” he said.

Terrorist incidents in the world, such as the deadly attack on Algeria’s natural gas facility in January, also played a role in planning the exercise.

“We want to challenge ourselves, our perception, and our conduct,” the source said.

“The exercise began quietly. Most units were surprised, including the IDF General Staff, which is the supporting component,” the source said.

The drill tested how long it would take for the IDF General Staff to snap into action, and how effectively elite counterterrorism units, such as Sayeret Matkal and the Border Police’s Counterterrorism Unit, could mobilize to affected areas and engage terrorists.

“We built the scenario in such a way that no one unit could solve the problem alone. We forced all of them to cooperate, to remove ego-driven obstacles which are healthy but are sometimes damaging. The units had to cooperate and create a professional dialogue to solve the problem,” the source said.

The source said inter-organizational cooperation between the IDF, police and Magen David Adom paramedics is good. The Israel Air Force also took part.

“These were extreme incidents that did not end with the release of hostages. The enemy had to be engaged and killed, sometimes in crowded areas. The incidents required medical responses. We created chains of evacuation for the injured and brought extras to play various roles in the drill.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and his deputy, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, took part in critical decisions during the exercise.

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