IDF kicks off large exercise simulating war against Hezbollah

Drill focuses on roles of senior officers and their staffs during conflict in north, rather than tactics and fighting; comes week after cross-border exchange

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Soldiers run to a helicopter during an exercise in northern Israel simulating a war with the Hezbollah terrorist group in September 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers run to a helicopter during an exercise in northern Israel simulating a war with the Hezbollah terrorist group in September 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian forces in the north of the country.

The drill, known in Hebrew as Even HaRosha, or Keystone, will largely be focused on the performance of senior officers and their staffs, rather than on fighting tactics and maneuvers, the army said.

“The goal of the exercise is improving the performance of the [IDF] General Staff and the various headquarters in war,” the IDF said in a statement.

Command units of the army’s air force, navy, ground forces, intelligence, logistics, communications and cyber units will participate in the exercise.

Some aspects of the drill were initially scheduled for last week, but were postponed in light of heightened tensions with the Hezbollah terror group.

The military said the exercise was scheduled to end Wednesday.

“Various scenarios will be simulated, with an emphasis on cooperation, multi-system planning and operations during wartime,” the army said.

Smoke rises near the community of Avivim following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on September 1, 2019. (Courtesy)

Tensions with Hezbollah and its patron Iran have soared in recent weeks, after the IDF late last month thwarted an attempt by Iranian operatives in Syria — including two former Hezbollah members — to carry out an attack on northern Israel with armed drones and attacked their base. It also followed a drone attack in Beirut, attributed to Israel, that reportedly destroyed key components of a joint Hezbollah-Iran project to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Lebanon.

In response, last Sunday, Hezbollah operatives fired three anti-tank guided missiles at Israeli positions near the Israel-Lebanon border — two of them at a military vehicle and one at a battalion headquarters. No Israeli soldiers were injured, and the IDF retaliated by firing approximately 100 artillery shells and bombs at Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon. No Lebanese casualties were reported.

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