Israeli military to hold 3-day drill near border with Lebanon

IDF says exercise was scheduled in advance; sounds of explosions will be heard in area

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

File: Israeli soldiers are seen in Metula, on the border between Israel and Lebanon, northern Israel, on May 15, 2021. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
File: Israeli soldiers are seen in Metula, on the border between Israel and Lebanon, northern Israel, on May 15, 2021. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday it would conduct a three-day military drill along the Lebanese border, as tensions remained high with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.

The IDF said the exercise would end Tuesday afternoon. Explosions are expected to be heard in nearby towns, it added.

The military said the drill was planned in advance, indicating that it did not stem from a new assessment.

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon have been high recently, as they have been engaged for over a year in rare US-brokered talks aimed at resolving a dispute over rights to offshore fields thought to hold riches of natural gas. The sides are said to be nearing an agreement.

Both countries claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon also claims that Israel’s Karish gas field is in disputed territory under ongoing maritime border negotiations, while Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.

Hezbollah has upped its rhetoric in recent months as Israel and Lebanon have engaged in talks. It remains vociferously opposed to any concessions to Israel. Tensions spiked in June when a production vessel chartered by Israel arrived near the Karish offshore gas field.

A sea-based Iron Dome air defense system is seen on a Navy ship, guarding the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened to target Israeli offshore installations. In July, the IDF said it downed four unarmed Hezbollah drones launched at a gas rig in Karish.

Lebanon and Israel last fought a war in 2006, have no diplomatic relations, and are separated by the UN-patrolled ceasefire line.

In June, the IDF held a major military exercise in Cyprus, simulating a ground offensive deep inside Lebanon in a potential war against the Iran-backed group.

Hezbollah has long been the IDF’s most significant adversary on Israel’s borders, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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