Israeli Navy carries out ‘extensive’ drills in preparation for potential war in north

Israel warns it won’t ‘be patient much longer’ for diplomatic solution on northern border after sending report to UN Security Council detailing Iran’s arming of Hezbollah

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

Israeli Navy missile boats carry out a drill in northern Israel, in a handout image released by the IDF on February 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli Navy missile boats carry out a drill in northern Israel, in a handout image released by the IDF on February 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli Navy’s fleet of missile boats carried out “extensive” exercises over the past week, the IDF said on Friday, as the military prepares for potential war in the north while Israel warns that its patience for a diplomatic solution is running out.

Israel and Hezbollah also continued to exchange cross-border fire on Friday, as the Iran-backed terror group claimed to target a regional council building while the IDF said it intercepted a “suspicious” drone that crossed into its airspace.

The IDF said the Navy drills simulated fighting in the northern maritime theater, and some exercises were carried out alongside the Israeli Air Force, including the 193rd Squadron which operates the AS565 Panther helicopters, primarily used for missions at sea.

Among the scenarios that were drilled included foiling drone attacks, aerial rescue operations from vessels, and refueling the missile boats at sea, the IDF said.

The drill comes amid daily attacks by the Hezbollah terror group on northern Israel amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has warned it can no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along its border following the October 7 atrocities and has warned that should a diplomatic solution not be reached, it will turn to military action to push Hezbollah northward.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned Friday that Israel “will not be patient much longer for a diplomatic solution in the north.” Katz shared a clip on social media from a Channel 12 report Thursday evening which said Israel sent an official warning to the UN Security Council that Iran is continuing to send arms to Hezbollah in breach of UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon.

“If the dramatic intelligence information we revealed before the Security Council doesn’t lead to a change, we will not hesitate to act,” tweeted Katz, after the report claimed Israel’s letter to the UNSC details the types of weaponry Iran is supplying Hezbollah as well as via which routes and on what dates.

Also Friday, Hezbollah claimed to have targeted the headquarters of the Upper Galilee Regional Council in Kiryat Shmona with two drones.

The IDF said that a “suspicious aerial target” that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon was successfully intercepted by air defenses. Suspected drone infiltration alarms had sounded in several communities in the Galilee panhandle.

Rockets sirens also sounded in Kiryat Shmona due to fears of falling shrapnel following the interception.

Hezbollah said that the attack was a response to recent Israeli strikes on “southern villages and civilian homes” including a strike on Thursday on what it said was a civil defense center in Blida.

This picture taken from an Israeli position along the border with southern Lebanon shows smoke billowing above the Lebanese village of Blida during Israeli airstrikes on February 22, 2024. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

The IDF said the strike on Blida targeted a building where Hezbollah operatives were gathered.

Hezbollah on Friday announced the deaths of three members killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes.

They were named as Hassan Tarraf, Hussein Khalil, and Muhammad Ismail, and were believed to have been killed in the strike on Blida. Khalil and Ismail were identified by Hezbollah as paramedics in the terror group’s Islamic Health Authority.


Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 211 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 32 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 30 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

French, US and other officials have been attempting for weeks and months to tamp down the possibility of any escalation along Israel’s northern border as it continues to fight against Hamas in Gaza, but no breakthroughs appear to be on the horizon.

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