The IDF will launch its largest military exercise in close to 20 years Tuesday as it simulates a war with Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah. The 11-day drill include tens of thousands of soldiers, including reservists, as the IDF seeks to improve the preparedness of its forces for a broad campaign in the north.
“It is not enough just to be a strong army, we need to adapt the response to the challenges facing us,” said an IDF source.
The massive military exercise, the largest since 1998, is named after former Mossad Director Meir Dagan, who commanded the 1998 drill.
The exercise will simulate a scenario where Hezbollah forces infiltrate into an Israeli settlement, escalating the situation to an all-out war in the north. One scenario has “terrorists” entering Moshav Shavei Tzion, 15 kilometers from the Lebanese border, from the sea, while “Hezbollah” forces stage an attack in the Golan Heights. The army will also practice an attack on Lebanon and the evacuation of Israeli towns near the border in preparation for possible heavy missile attacks.
“The enemy is developing very fast,” said Major General Yossi Bachar, commander of the General Staff Corps. “Therefore, there is a more significant threat to IDF.”
In contrast to Israel’s recent wars, such as the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the 2014 Gaza war, known as Operation Protective Edge, which had vaguely defined goals, in the drill scenario the cabinet tells the armed forces to vanquish Hezbollah.
Since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, the Lebanese Shi’ite group’s capabilities have surged. According to some Israeli analysts, the next war with Hezbollah might see 1,500-2,000 rockets shot into Israel per day, compared to the 150-180 per day during the Second Lebanon War 10 years ago in which 121 soldiers and 44 civilians were killed and over 2,000 people injured.
In addition, Hezbollah has become an army with battalions, brigades and over 40,000 fighters who have gained immeasurable battlefield experience from fighting in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war.
At an event marking 11 years to the Second Lebanon War in June, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said that “the northern front and Hezbollah remain the IDF’s highest priority.”