In fact, it was an April Fools joke initiated by none other than the Israel Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg.
On Saturday Vice Admiral Rotberg convened several senior naval officers and gave out the surprise order to prepare for an exercise in Italy.
Rotberg explained that the voyage would take 10 days and that they would need to keep the information at the senior command level. Yet in spite of his command, some of the officers revealed the information to the troops.
During the night, the naval base in Haifa began preparations for the complex exercise and in the early hours of Sunday morning the senior officers were forced to call in the troops and let them know that it was all a prank.
Some of the soldiers who had already let their parents know that they wouldn't be home for a few weeks failed to accept the spirit of the April Fools Joke.
"Some of the parents were already en route to bring additional equipment and food for the soldiers and others had transferred cash into their accounts in case they would need funds in Italy," one parent said. "The naval commander has nothing better to do than to carry out pranks?"
IDF officials explained that the intention was never to harass the soldiers and other than the initial planning - which was logistic rather than operational – no ship ever weighed anchor and the routine operational and training schedule was not altered.
The IDF is taking the matter seriously on an official level. "The incident is being investigated and looked into within the IDF and conclusions will be made accordingly," the IDF spokesman stated.
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