Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a three-day war drill along the Gaza Strip border simulating various military maneuver, including a full-blown war with terrorist organizations in the coastal enclave, the IDF said in a statement Sunday.
The field training exercise, which will measure the operational readiness of IDF soldiers for various combat scenarios “especially in the Gaza Strip,” will include infantry units, artillery, armored personnel carriers, main battle tanks, and aircraft, the statement read.
The exercise will also include armored personnel carriers and helicopters moving large numbers of troops to different regions, live-fire exercises, and aerial bombing raids.
Though a surprise announcement, the IDF said the drill had been planned for some time as part of its regular training schedule.
“We emphasize that the exercise was planned as part of the training program and is intended to maintain the readiness and readiness of the forces,” the IDF statement said.
The drill comes amid an increase of nighttime riots at the Gaza border fence, which includes throwing explosives over the barrier and the return of airborne arson attacks directed at Israel.
The Jerusalem Post said Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi attended a meeting with senior officers at IDF Southern Command. Military leaders agreed on a new operational plan in the event of war, including the formation of a centralized administrative unit that would prepare a list of potential targets in Gaza for special forces.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second most powerful terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, was deemed a significant threat by the IDF and a contributing factor to the 2019 riots at the border.
Both Hamas and PIJ have restored their military capabilities to their pre-2014 strength.
IDF officials expect in the next major conflict, southern cities bordering the Strip will be hammered with rocket and mortar attacks. Due to this threat, Kochavi requested two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries for the region.
Earlier this year, former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said forces had intercepted a shipment of 15,000-20,000 rockets into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Last year was the most dangerous increase in violence between Israel and terror groups operating in Gaza, not seen since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, with more than 1,000 rockets fired.
The drill also comes as former military ombudsman Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Brick warned that IDF ground forces are not ready for a large-scale war.