IDF simulates ground invasion of Gaza to stop rocket fire

As rockets continue to trickle into southern Israel, the IDF prepares contingency plan to enter Gaza, silence rocket fire.

Gaza Division drill Nov 2013 370 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
Gaza Division drill Nov 2013 370
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
The IDF is in the middle of a large-scale military exercise in and around Ashkelon, simulating a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The exercise, held by the Gaza Division, simulates a clash with Hamas in which the aim is to extinguish rocket fire against Israel as quickly as possible.
In particular, the combined forces taking part in the drill are practicing their ability to receive intelligence on the location of targets and direct their firepower swiftly at them while advancing into enemy territory.
The drill, which began this week, focuses on commanders and their operational plans, and involves urban warfare techniques.
It will end on Wednesday afternoon, Lt.-Col. Roy Svirski, commander of the 74th Armored Battalion, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
“This large exercise is aimed at increasing the level of readiness among all field units, in combination with the air force and navy,” Svirski said.
“The purpose is to ensure that a [contingency] plan is prepared so that if necessary, on any given day, our brigade crews will be ready to act with maximum effectiveness. The whole aim is to maneuver in those areas [of Gaza where our presence will] result in quiet for all residents of south and central Israel. We understand that the [rocket] threat from Gaza long ago passed the 20-kilometer mark, and that central Israel is affected, too.”
Other Hamas threats the exercise is simulating are anti-tank missile strikes on civilian traffic and tunnel warfare techniques.
For the past four months, Svirski’s battalion members have been out of their tanks and engaged in border patrol activities near Eilat, on the border with the Sinai Peninsula.
“We can also work as infantry to patrol borders and makes arrests, or carry out security missions in the territories. Currently we’re carrying out vehicle patrols,” the commander said. “But we can be called in a short time to enter battle arenas in tanks in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and maybe other areas in the future.”
Addressing the situation in the Sinai border region, Svirski said the frontier was quiet, but that this was “deceptive.”
“At the moment, most of the activity is focused on stopping drug dealers. But we’re not confused for a second. It’s clear to us that the real enemy is preparing the next terrorism attack,” he said. “We expect it to be a surprise. Today, with everything that’s happening in Egypt, an attack might be closer than ever.”
Despite the threats, Svirski said residents of Eilat or those who visited it should continue to feel secure in the knowledge that the IDF was effectively keeping the area safe.
Also on Tuesday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel set off code red sirens in the Ashkelon Coast Council region, but failed to reach its destination, falling inside Gaza.
No injuries or damage were reported in the attack.