Army ready for fight in north, IDF chief says, vowing to beef up border defenses

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

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) tours Israel's northern border, January 3, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) tours Israel's northern border, January 3, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

During a visit to the northern border, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says the military is in a “very strong state of readiness in the north,” but remains focused on fighting Hamas.

The remarks come a day after Israel allegedly assassinated Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri in Lebanon. The Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, which has been carrying out daily attacks on northern Israel since October 8, has vowed to respond.

“We are in a very strong state of readiness in the north under my impression. I visit here a lot, I think readiness is at its peak,” Halevi says during an assessment with Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, the commander of the 210th Regional Division, Brig. Gen. Zion Ratzon, and commanders of reservist units on the border.

“We are very well prepared in all areas, and we are currently focusing on fighting Hamas,” Halevi says.

He says the war, despite the difficult circumstances that led to it, provides “some kind of opportunity to change the situation in a very significant way,” both in the south and north.

“We are looking ahead, we are going to change the routine defense, we are going to have at least in the next year many more forces on the borders, and we will reach something much stronger. Because this incident, as difficult as it is, and we will talk a lot more, it cannot repeat itself, that’s for sure,” Halevi adds, referring to Hamas’s October 7 massacres.

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