A military exercise began Sunday afternoon in the southern city of Ashkelon and in the area adjacent to the restive Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
The army said the four-day drill for its Gaza Division forces included ground troops, combat helicopters, and other aircraft.
The army said the drill that is scheduled to end Wednesday morning was “another significant step in improving the IDF’s operational preparedness in the Gaza Strip.”
The IDF made the announcement on Saturday night, though it said Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, ordered that the exercise be added to the 2019 training schedule, when he took office in January.
Kochavi made the decision amid growing concerns in the IDF about its operational preparedness after former military ombudsman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick claimed that the army, especially its ground troops, were not prepared for a large-scale war.
The beginning of 2019 saw dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and airborne arson attacks, but the violence has waned in recent weeks, due to a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.
Last month, the Air Force held its first-ever exercise with new American F-35 stealth fighter jets, which simulated simultaneous fighting in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon.