Umm al-Fahm mayor, Samir Sobhi Mahamed

IDF cancels military drill in Umm al-Fahm at mayors' request

Mayor Samir Sobhi Mahamed says training exercise harmful to attempts to promote co-existence; IDF commanders say the military must 'preserve governance' in the area, can't change planned drills according to mayor's wishes

Yossi Yehoshua |
Published: 05.17.22, 23:09
The IDF decided on Tuesday to abort a planned military exercise in the city of Umm al-Fahm, the third-largest Arab city in Israel.
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  • The decision was made after the city's mayor, Samir Sobhi Mahamed requested Defense Minister Benny Gantz cancel the maneuver meant to simulate a battle with the Hezbollah terror group.
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    סמיר מחאמיד, ראש עיריית אום אל פחם
    סמיר מחאמיד, ראש עיריית אום אל פחם
    Umm al-Fahm mayor, Samir Sobhi Mahamed
    (Photo: Ido Erez)
    In response to the request, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, decided the military would move the drill, which was planned to take place next week, to an uninhabited area near the city.
    Senior and mid-tier officers, who were to command the drill, claimed that the IDF should not have changed a pre-planned military exercise according to the wishes of a local mayor.
    "Israel must preserve governance in the area," they say. Umm al-Fahm is located in an area populated predominately by Arab citizens. The officers said when simulating operations in Gaza, troops maneuver in the southern city of Ashkelon, and should be able to do the same in the north when simulating battles against the Lebanese based Hezbollah, in Umm al-Fahm.
    2 View gallery
    סיום השבוע הראשון של תרגיל ״מרכבות האש״
    סיום השבוע הראשון של תרגיל ״מרכבות האש״
    IDF soldiers conduct training exercises
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson Unit)
    About six months ago, the IDF conducted a similar exercise inside Umm al-Fah. And although it was a limited drill, it still caused displeasure among the local population in the city.
    Now the objection was seen as more significant because it came directly from the mayor.
    "I, the city council, and the residents of Umm al-Fahm are strongly opposed to conducting the military drill inside the city, and we have made our position known to the relevant military officials," mayor Mahamed wrote to the IDF chief of staff.
    "Needless to say that moving armored personnel carriers inside the city which simulates a battle against Hezbollah has a dramatic effect on the feelings of the residents," Mahamed wrote.
    " As the mayor of the city, I do everything within my power to promote co-existence and improve the image of the city as well as the quality of life within it. And I am afraid these kinds of military exercises are harmful to those goals," he said.
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