IDF carries out drill simulating an Oct. 7-style attack in the West Bank

Troops exercise response to mass attack on settlements as well as northern communities that border Palestinian territory

File: Israeli soldiers seen during a drill simulating a terrorist infiltration in the settlement of Beitar Illit, in the West Bank, October 24, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
File: Israeli soldiers seen during a drill simulating a terrorist infiltration in the settlement of Beitar Illit, in the West Bank, October 24, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces recently carried out a drill simulating a potential massive attack on West Bank settlements and communities in northern Israel that border the Palestinian territory.

The drill, which took place sometime in the past week, was first reported by Channel 12 news and later confirmed to The Times of Israel.

The military did not offer any official details on the exercise.

According to military sources, the drill was part of a series of various scenarios that the IDF is preparing for in the West Bank, in light of Hamas’s devastating October 7 attacks on southern Israel, in which terrorists killed some 1,200 people, most of them civilians and took over 240 hostage.

The unprecedented attacks led Israel to declare war on Hamas in Gaza and raised tensions in the West Bank, though fears of attempts to copy the terror group’s atrocities elsewhere have not materialized.

The military has been under intense scrutiny since the attacks for the intelligence and planning failures that enabled Hamas to carry out the massacres. Numerous top-level officials are widely expected to resign once the war ends, and major investigations into the IDF’s preparations, or lack thereof, are likely.

Unlike Gaza, where Hamas has ruled unimpeded for some 16 years, largely free to build up its military and offensive capabilities, the West Bank is closely controlled by Israel, with the military regularly conducting counter-terror operations throughout Palestinian cities and towns. Israel’s intelligence capabilities in the territory are also more robust, given its hold on the territory.

Thus, a repeat in the West Bank of the October 7 events is thought to be highly unlikely. Nevertheless, in light of the astounding failures of readiness that enabled the assault on southern Israel, the military is taking precautions to prepare for all eventualities.

Since the October 7 onslaught by Hamas against Israel, troops have arrested over 2,400 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,200 affiliated with Hamas.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 280 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israelis or Israeli forces in that time.

Based on military estimates, the vast majority of the 280 Palestinians killed since October 7 were shot dead during clashes amid arrest raids, and many of them, according to data seen by The Times of Israel, were armed with either a firearm or an explosive device.

The IDF is aware of at least three cases of uninvolved Palestinians being killed by troops in recent weeks, and a handful of cases of settlers killing Palestinians, which are still under investigation.

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