A large-scale IDF drill simulating various scenarios including war with terrorist groups in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip finished Tuesday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced.
The surprise drill – which saw the participation of all forces throughout the military including ground troops, artillery, aircraft, the armored corps and intelligence corps – ended at the Tze’elim training base in the South.
The drill was designed to examine the operational readiness of troops for various combat scenarios in the blockaded coastal enclave and included moving large numbers of troops to different regions, amassing forces in designated locations, live-fire exercises and aerial maneuvers, the military said.
Over the course of the exercise, Southern Command drilled rapid troop deployment, firepower and squad-level combat, together with air support, troop maneuvering, auxiliary support and administrative assistance.
During the exercise, the surrounding logistics, maintenance, transportation and medical support were also drilled alongside the combat troops. The multi-arm exercise also included urban warfare and night fighting on armored vehicles as well as tanks.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi joined troops taking part in the drill on Tuesday, speaking with soldiers and commanders. The head of the Ground Forces, Maj.-Gen. Kobi Barak, as well as the head of the IDF’s technology division, Maj.-Gen. Itzik Turgeman, also visited troops during the exercise.
As part of his visit to the exercise, Barak prepared a presentation of readiness for combat and tested the combat gear, equipment and preparedness of the forces for combat.
The drill comes as the IDF has faced increasing criticism following allegations by former military ombudsman Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick who warned that the military, especially the ground forces, are not prepared for a large-scale war.
While it was a surprise drill, it had been planned in advance as part of the military’s training schedule. Nevertheless, it comes amid heightened tensions along the Gaza border fence and on the heels by the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate which warned of a high probability of a military escalation this year in both Gaza and the West Bank.
As one of his first visits as chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi went to the Southern Command and met with senior officers and approved operational plans for war, including setting up a centralized administrative unit to prepare a list of potential targets in Gaza in case a war should break out.
The drill also came as UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council that there was a growing risk of war between Israel and Gaza.
“With the prospects of intra-Palestinian reconciliation dimming, the people of Gaza feel more and more left to their own devices – with no representation, no relief and no way out. The Palestinians, who are the weaker people in the conflict, need international support more than ever,” he said.