Netanyahu tells troops northern training is ‘not theoretical’

‘Instill the fear of death into enemy,’ PM advises as he reviews Golan Heights drill; defense minister warns call-up may come soon

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told troops practicing maneuvers on the Golan Heights Wednesday that their training may be put to use in the near future, as opposed to exercises in past years, which were just “theoretical.”

“The reality around us is changing and is volatile. We need to be suitably prepared,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu was joined by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz as he watched soldiers from the Golani Brigade during drills that included the use of tanks and armored personnel carriers.

The exercise came as an increasingly skittish Israel is preparing for the possibility of the Syrian civil war spilling across its borders. Earlier this month, rebels briefly took control of the Quneitra border crossing, bringing the two-year civil war to the Jewish state’s doorstep.

While stressing that he was not challenging anyone, the prime minister warned that “no one will attack the State of Israel without a strong and decisive response.”

Israel in the past has responded to cross-border fire by striking back at Syrian troops, though the flareups usually die down. Jerusalem was also reportedly behind a series of airstrikes on weapons sites in Damascus over the past year.

Ya’alon also cautioned that the soldiers may soon have to put their training into practice.

“Golani, along with other combat units in the IDF, may find itself called to battle on short notice,” Ya’alon said. “This exercise, along with others in recent days, has special significance at this time and in this place.”

Netanyahu, a former commando, also dispensed advice on having the right attitude in combat.

“The battlefield is a realm of the unknown and one must have the will to break the adversary and, at the moment of truth, to instill in him the fear of death,” he said. “That’s how you win a battle, and if they try us we will know how to best them.”

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