IDF drilling on evacuating communities close to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

IDF is concerned that terrorists will cross out of Gaza and then make their way back into Israel to attacks troops and civilians from the Sinai.

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July 30, 2019 22:37
2 minute read.
IDF drilling on evacuating communities close to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

IDF paratroopers take part in Allied Spirit X. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The IDF has practiced drills on evacuating communities along the Gaza border, and for the first time, evacuating communities close to the Egyptian border during a large-scale military exercise in southern Israel.

According to reports, the communities which were simulated to be evacuated during the drill included Shlomit, Yated, Avshalom, Yevul, Holit, Bnei Netzarim and Naveh, the latter of which is where Education Minister Rafi Peretz lives. The drill also included simulations of the evacuation of communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

While the military has previously conducted drills on evacuating communities sitting right along the border, it was the first time that these communities – which sit further back from the Hamas-controlled enclave – took part in such a drill.

The Gaza division drill, which began on Sunday afternoon in Ashkelon and in the area bordering the Gaza Strip, saw the participation of ground troops, combat helicopters and other aircraft.

The four-day drill was “another significant step in improving the IDF’s operational preparedness in the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement, adding that the drill was “preplanned as part of the training schedule for 2019.”

The military is concerned that in the next war in the South, Hamas terrorists or other Gaza-based armed terrorists will exit Gaza through tunnels and then make their way back into Israel to attacks troops and civilians.

In January, the IDF destroyed a Hamas tunnel that was dug from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which ran about 1.5 km. and penetrated some 180 m. into Israeli territory. It passed under the only commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel, the Kerem Shalom crossing, as well as beneath several strategic targets such as gas and diesel pipelines.

Israel denied claims the tunnel was used for smuggling, asserting that Hamas had intended to use it to bring terrorists and weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip for a possible future combined attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing from the Egyptian side.

The tunnel was completely destroyed by an airstrike carried out by the Israeli Air Force.

Israel accuses Hamas of continuing to invest significant amounts of manpower and money into its tunnel system, which has been described as a “metro system” of three kinds of tunnels in Gaza, some of which run under residential buildings. The system comprises smuggling tunnels with Egypt, tunnels inside the Strip used for command centers and weapons storage, and offensive tunnels used for cross-border attacks in Israel.

Israel has a 240 km. border with the Sinai, and after Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi rose to power, Cairo and Jerusalem are reported to have been closely cooperating in the Sinai Peninsula in the fight against ISIS terrorists.

The Palestinian terrorist group that rules Gaza has long been accused by both Egypt and Israel of aiding ISIS in Sinai.
Israel’s military has been investing extensive efforts in locating cross-border tunnels from Gaza, and has been building a groundbreaking underground barrier across the entire border with the Hamas-run Strip.

Since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Israel has been able to locate and destroy 18 cross-border tunnels dug from Gaza.


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