Israeli army cadets train for takeover of Hezbollah-held Lebanese village

Israeli army cadets train for takeover of Hezbollah-held Lebanese village

Joint drill involving troops on the ground and in the air focuses on cooperation between various units as they seek to destroy a hidden-away enemy

Illustrative: Army cadets simulate a takeover of a Lebanese village at the IDF Officers' Training School, June 2019 (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: Army cadets simulate a takeover of a Lebanese village at the IDF Officers' Training School, June 2019 (Israel Defense Forces)

Army cadets at the Israel Defense Forces’ Officer Training School this week drilled for the takeover of a Lebanese village held by Hezbollah in a future war with the terror group.

The exercise saw a focus on cooperation between infantry, Armored Corps, Air Force and intelligence-gathering troops in identifying and eliminating threats in urban areas, Channel 12 news reported Saturday.

It also incorporated battles against missile-launching cells and underground combat in tunnels and bunkers with hiding enemy troops.

In a future conflict “we will not enter every village,” said Brig. Gen. Benny Aharon, who oversees commander training in the Armored Corps. “We will choose the targets we need to conquer and hit those places we know will help us defeat the enemy — the places that are its center of gravity.”

He said the main challenge was hitting an enemy that was visible above ground only for short periods of time. Cadets, he said, were learning “how a future battle field will look and what is expected of them in war.”

Last month Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that his Iran-backed terror group would “annihilate and destroy” the Israeli military if the latter entered Lebanon in a future war.

“Israel wants a war? Let it go to war. The Israeli units and brigades that dare to enter southern Lebanon will be annihilated and destroyed on live television before the whole world,” he said.

The taunts are typical of the Lebanese terror group leader, whose organization faced its last war with Israel in 2006.

In a speech on April 22, Nasrallah claimed Israel’s ground forces were unprepared for a ground offensive in Lebanon and the Jewish state could no longer win battles solely from the air.

“The Israelis say the home front is not ready. Any theoretical Israeli war needs a ground operation to achieve its desired goal. The era in which the air force decides the battle is over.”

Nasrallah said Israel was deterred by Hezbollah’s military prowess.

“Our ground combat capabilities are strong,” he said, “and Israel takes that into account. It’s scared of getting entangled in Gaza, even though Gaza is exposed on all sides, so would it dare to enter Lebanon?”

Earlier this year the new head of the IDF’s Ground Forces Command said Hezbollah was still planning to carry out a surprise invasion of northern Israel, despite a recent Israeli operation to uncover and destroy an extensive network of cross-border attack tunnels dug by the militia.

Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, a former chief of the IDF’s Northern Command, was tapped to lead the Ground Forces Command in February amid increased criticism from some quarters in the Defense Ministry charging that Israeli troops were not prepared for war.

“Hezbollah still has plans to invade the Galilee,” he told the Ynet news site in an interview. “Of course, we won’t allow that to happen. We will thwart these plans.”

Back in December, Israel accused Hezbollah of digging cross-border tunnels into its territory from southern Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy the tunnels.

According to the army, Hezbollah had planned to use the tunnels to kidnap or kill civilians or soldiers, and to seize a slice of Israeli territory in the event of any hostilities.

Late last month the military completed the destruction of a cross-border Hezbollah attack tunnel from Lebanon, which the army said was the largest and most technically advanced passage dug by the Iran-backed terror group, after it was located this past winter and studied over the past few months.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, this was Hezbollah’s “flagship” tunnel — longer, dug deeper, and with more advanced components than the other five cross-border attack tunnels that the military said it found in Operation Northern Shield, an effort to find and destroy these passages in December and January.

Israel has fought two wars in Lebanon, one in 1982 against Palestinian terrorist groups, and another in 2006 against Hezbollah, as well as a number of smaller operations.

Though seen as volatile, the border has not seen significant fighting since the end of the 2006 war.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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