Amid Syria strike rumors, IDF prepares for Hezbollah attack
As foreign press outlets report that Israel strikes Syrian army weapons development center, the IDF carries on with large scale drill in the North; IDF simulates Hezbollah attack in northern town; 'We'll kill anyone who tries to infiltrate, and no one's going to make it back to Lebanon,' says IDF commander in charge of Israeli side of drill.
The IDF is currently holding its largest military drill in nearly 20 years—a combined arms exercise along its border with Lebanon.
A military official said Monday that the joint exercise, which began Tuesday and involves thousands of ground, sea and air force vehicles and personnel, aims to prepare soldiers for "preserving the current stability in the northern sector."
Earlier Thursday, the Syrian army warned Israel of "serious consequences" Thursday after officially accusing Israel of sending fighter jets to carry out a strike on targets on the state’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) near the city of Hama, which is responsible for research and development of nuclear, biological, chemical and missile technology and weapons.
"The Syrian army warns of the serious consequences of these kinds of aggressive activities against the security and stability in the region," the statement began.
"The army is determined to destroy terrorism and obliterate it in all Syrian territory, and it doesn’t matter what kind of aid is given to these terror gangs," it continued in an allusion to what it claims is Israel's active support for the terror group.
The IDF made it a point to stress that the exercise is not simulating fighting in Syria or with Syrian involvement. That said, it is worth noting that sources within the Military Intelligence Directorate have started referring to Israel's next war as the "War in the North," and not the "Lebanon War."
The military exercise, which is due to end on Sep. 14th, will change its tactics from defense to offense next week.
However, the drill has already begun setting up a possible scenario that could end up as the catalyst to the aforementioned "War in the North": specifically, the exercise is to include a scenario where Hezbollah's Radwan forces, currently situated in Syria, cross the border into Israel with the aim of kidnapping Israeli civilians and holing up in a local synagogue. The unit's ultimate goal in the drill is to raise the Hezbollah flag on Israeli soil and get a photograph of the event to Hezbollah's headquarters, to be used by Sec. Gen. Hassan Nasrallah as a visual mark of triumph in the terrorist organization's fight against Israel.
For the sake of the drill, Lower Galilee is considered South Lebanon. Within minutes, elite IDF fighters arrived on the scene, intent of thwarting the "Hezbollah unit's" goal.
"We'll kill anyone who tries to infiltrate, and no one's going to make it back to Lebanon, not even those who are equipped with GoPros," said Col. Eliad (Maor) Muati, who is in charge of the IDF divisions along the South Lebanon border, and who is also in charge of the elite IDF fighters fighting for the Israeli side in the drill.
"We're not carrying out an exercise simulating what's fun and easy. Hezbollah isn't really going to take over the Galilee and try to surprise us with Radwan units, gliders and heavy-duty mortar bombs. But we have our own surprises, and a lot of special forces that will protect from within the communities."