PM: Drill is routine, not retaliatory

Barak, meanwhile, stresses "a country like Israel must be prepared."

Netanyahu visits north 311 (photo credit: IDF)
Netanyahu visits north 311
(photo credit: IDF)
As Hizbullah prepared to amass its forces ahead of Israel's annual National Home Front drill, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu devoted his weekly address at Sunday's cabinet meeting to sending a clear message of "stability and peace."
Netanyahu stressed that the drill was an annual and routine occurrence which was set up months in advance, adding that the exercise had not been scheduled in reaction to any "irregular security development" in the North or elsewhere.
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"Quite the contrary," the prime minister elaborated. "Israel wants peace, quiet and stability - but it is no secret that we live in a region that is subject to threats of rocket and missile [attacks]," he continued, making an apparent reference to recent reports of a delivery of Scud ballistic missiles to Hizbullah by Syria.
Last Thursday, a Kassam rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, prompting a swift IDF response.
 "The best defense is ... deterrence," Netanyahu said. "We invest significant state resources in developing defense mechanisms."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also commented on Sunday's drill, saying Israel "has no intention to declare war," but rather "strives for calm and peace."
Barak stressed, however, that "a country like Israel must be prepared" to defend itself, "and we are indeed prepared."
Also during the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu announced the inception of an NIS 80 million plan to encourage IDF veterans and those who recently completed national service to pursue higher education. He also discussed a bill that would connect 150 IDF bases to an advanced sewer system.