The largest drill ever to take place between Israel and the US has been scheduled for the coming days, the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday.
The report says the drill will simulate missile attacks on Israel from Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, and will test the Israeli Air Force as well as the US Navy.
The IDF stated in response to the report that the drill, codenamed 'Juniper Cobra,' was routine. No other details were given.
"The US and Israel conduct drills together on Israeli land now and then," the IDF Spokesperson's Office stated. "The drills are preplanned and constitute part of the annual training plan for the air forces and mutual understanding between the sides."
The statement added that the drill does not simulate any specific occurrence in the region. "Like any joint drill, 'Juniper Cobra' reflects
'Hefty price on the political front'
The report in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, which is based on Israeli sources, said maneuvers in the drill will be conducted mostly by the IAF and the US Navy. IDF officials told Ynet that a few hundred US combat soldiers are also expected, and will conduct drills on the ground along with Israeli forces.
The report adds that a number of American ships have arrived in Haifa's port, and that the crew on one of the vessels has already begun to prepare for its maneuver.
The drill will also make use of missile defense systems, including the American 'Patriot' system and the Israeli 'Arrow 2', the report said.
The paper quotes an Israeli official as saying that Israel will attempt to avail the US of some of the weaponry it plans to use in the drill for use in its own defense.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat stressed the bolstering of ties between the US and Israel, and quoted Israeli sources as saying that these ties may come with a price. One official said US President Barack Obama was "guarding Israel" in exchange for political concessions later on.
"The cooperation on the defense front will have a hefty price on the political front," the source was quoted as saying.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report