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IDF launches its largest drill of the year, simulating war against Hezbollah

‘Lethal Arrow’ meant to improve the military’s attack capabilities; exercise scaled back from original plan due to coronavirus pandemic

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF troops are seen during an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops are seen during an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terror group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability, it said.

The multi-day drill — dubbed “Lethal Arrow” — will predominantly focus on how various headquarters and command centers work together and communicate in wartime, the military said. It was also set to include physical maneuvers by ground forces, naval vessels and aircraft.

“The goal of the exercise is improving the IDF’s attack ability and testing all levels [of the military] in an integrated way,” the IDF said in a statement.

The military said the exercise would simulate a “multi-front scenario focused on the northern arena.”

The IDF believes that any future war against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group would not only be waged in southern Lebanon, but would also include attacks from Syria and potentially the Gaza Strip as well.

“Headquarters, conscripted troops and reservist forces are taking part in the exercise, alongside the air force, navy and ground forces, as well as the intelligence, technology and logistics, teleprocessing and cyber defense directorates,” the IDF said.

The exercise — the largest planned for this year — was significantly scaled back due to restrictions because of the coronavirus. Nonetheless, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi faced concerns and criticism within the military over his decision to go ahead with the exercise despite the pandemic.

“We will stress that the exercise has been adjusted to follow special health instructions and it is being held under the full adherence to the instructions to ensure the health of the participants,” the IDF said.

The military warned Israelis that they were likely to notice a larger than normal presence of aircraft overhead throughout the country in general and that people in the cities of Haifa and Ashdod were likely to see large numbers of troops, vehicles and ships around the ports.

The IDF generally considers the Hezbollah terror group to be its most significant military foe. The Iran-backed Shiite militia, with whom Israel fought a war in 2006, is believed to maintain an arsenal of some 130,000 rockets and missiles — a larger collection of projectiles than many nations possess — and the organization has amassed considerable battle experience from fighting in Syria throughout the country’s civil war.

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