IDF drills for multi-front war, including 1,500 rockets a day fired from Lebanon

During monthlong exercise simulating war against Hezbollah on northern frontier, military prepares for heavy damage, hundreds of casualties, and finds issues with logistics

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Illustrative: Israeli Home Front Command soldiers take part in a defense drill simulating a building collapse Abu Gosh, November 8, 2015. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: Israeli Home Front Command soldiers take part in a defense drill simulating a building collapse Abu Gosh, November 8, 2015. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli cities could be bombarded with 1,500 rockets a day, and the death toll could quickly reach into the hundreds should war with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon break out, according to a military assessment shared Thursday.

Army officials said the predictions of fierce fighting and carnage on Israel’s homefront formed the basis of exercises carried out recently as part of the massive month-long “Chariots of Fire” drill, now in its third week.

During the exercise — scheduled to last through June 3 — troops have been practicing responding to sudden events in multiple theaters simultaneously, with a focus on defending the northern border, according to the IDF.

The Home Front Command was practicing a simulation in which 80 sites are heavily damaged in rocket attacks with some 300 casualties, during a several-day flare-up with the Hezbollah terror group.

The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group has long represented the IDF’s most significant military threat, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

The exercises have also included practicing maneuvers for a possible ground invasion in Lebanon. Unlike bouts of fighting with Gaza Strip-based terrorists, which has relied heavily on air campaigns, a war in Lebanon would more than likely have to make use of a ground operation, according to recent assessments.

Hezbollah fighters stand atop a car mounted with a mock rocket, as they parade during a rally to mark the seventh day of Ashoura, in the southern village of Seksakiyeh, Lebanon, on October 9, 2016. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)

The IDF said its campaign would likely wind up killing thousands of people in Lebanon, both civilians and Hezbollah fighters.

Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli communities in the 2006 war, while Israel bombarded targets in southern Lebanon. The month of fighting killed an estimated 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, as well as 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers.

Previous IDF estimates have put the number of rockets that could target Israel daily between 1,000 to 3,000.

Israeli rescue workers seen at the site where a rocket fired from southern Lebanon hit the northern Israeli city of Haifa August 13, 2006. (Flash90)

Military officials said the drills were aimed at raising the competence and readiness of troops and top brass for a major war on multiple fronts, as well as coordination with other emergency organizations, local authorities, and government ministries.

The drills have also raised “quite a few” issues with the way the army handles logistics, according to the head of the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate, Brig. Gen. Pini Ben Moyal. He said the military would examine these issues and find ways to address them, without elaborating.

The Chariots of Fire drill is the military’s largest exercise in decades. It was postponed last May ahead of the war with terror groups in the Gaza Strip. During the final week of the drill, the air force will simulate a series of strikes on nuclear facilities in Iran.

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