IDF launches surprise military-wide drill simulating war in Gaza

Amid increasing violence in the Strip and concerns over army preparedness, 3-day exercise to include live-fire tests, troop deployments and aerial maneuvers

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

IDF troops conduct a training exercise near the Gaza Strip on December 6, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
IDF troops conduct a training exercise near the Gaza Strip on December 6, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

The Israeli military launched a surprise large-scale exercise on Sunday simulating a number of war scenarios, including in the increasingly restive Gaza Strip, the army said.

The three-day drill will include forces from throughout the military, “including ground troops, armor, artillery and aircraft,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The military said the exercise would “test the operational preparedness for a number of combat scenarios, especially in the Gaza Strip.”

The drill, which is due to end on Tuesday, will include transporting large numbers of troops to different regions, gathering forces in designated locations, life-fire exercise and aerial maneuvers, the army said.

Though a surprise announcement, the military said the exercise had been planned in advance as part of its training schedule.

Palestinian protesters burn tires during a demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 22, 2019.(Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Recent weeks have seen a dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and a return of airborne arson attacks, which had waned in light of a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

The exercise also came amid growing concerns in the military concerning its readiness for war in light of allegations by former military ombudsman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick that the army, especially its ground troops, were not prepared for a large-scale war.

Last week, the army also tested its automated system for calling up reservists in what it said was a planned exercise aimed at improving preparedness.

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