The annual nationwide exercise of the IDF's General Staff this year marked the escalation of the threat from the northeast: while the army still considers Hezbollah its main enemy in the next possible major confrontation, and is therefore preparing accordingly, as time goes by, Iran's foothold in Syria is slowly forcing the IDF to bolster its awareness and military readiness against the Iranian threat.
A future multi-theater war, the IDF predicts, may have Iran as a major actor, and if so will undoubtedly drag its proxy in Gaza, Hamas, to back it in its efforts with a simultaneous pincer attack from the north and the south.
"The exercise was very challenging and was attended by all the commanders and the administration of the exercise, headed by Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, and expressed a variety of threats by land, sea, air and cyberwarfare," explained a senior IDF officer, adding that the exercise heavily involved the Home Front Command, "with the understanding that in every serious scenario (in Israel—ed) the home front is a second front."
The officer noted that the exercise took into account the issue of air coordination vis-à-vis the Russian air force operating in Syria, even during wartime.
As for the threat from the south, the exercise simulated a scenario of militants infiltrating the country from the Gaza Strip through offensive tunnels, storming communities in the Gaza vicinity.
On Tuesday morning, Security Cabinet members were supposed to participate for four hours in the exercise, but most canceled their attendance due to the political crisis surrounding the exemption from IDF enlistment for yeshiva students pushed by the Haredi factions.
Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman participated in the exercise as part of his duties, while Cabinet member and former GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant arrived at his own initiative, accompanied by GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon.
The rest of the Cabinet did not come to the exercise for even a brief impression, not even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The senior IDF officer noted that while the exercise was planned to involve simulations of decision by the political echelon, the drill was, at its core, a general exercise by the IDF, and for the IDF.
Meanwhile, more than one thousand United States Marines and Israeli paratroopers have recently been training in Israel's southern region's Tze'elim base, as part of the massive joint 2018 Juniper Cobra exercise held this month.