The Israeli Defense Force has begun surprise live-fire war games on the Golan Heights, bordering unstable Lebanon and Syria. Officially, the Israeli military is practicing combat readiness to repel possible sudden attack from Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
The Chief of IDF General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered troops from the Northern and Central commands, reinforced by reservists, to simulate an emergency. The IDF insists the drill is a routine scheduled event, but for unknown reasons withheld from making public how many troops and what military vehicles are being involved in the war games.
But Israel Radio’s military affairs correspondent who is in regular contact with senior officers, said on air that the timing of the exercise was “not mere coincidence.”
Troops were flown by helicopter from central Israel to the Golan Heights for the exercise.
The live fire drill will be conducted later in the evening and will be overseen by the IDF’s Chief Artillery Officer, Brig. Gen. Roei Riftin.
Similar war games were held a year ago and last week the IDF held drills simulating a mass rocket assault on Israeli territory by Hezbollah.
The IDF has expressed concerns several times that the situation in neighboring Syria, where a civil war is in full swing, might get out of hand. Syria has a considerable chemical weapons stockpile and Israel fears these weapons could fall into the wrong hands if President Bashar al-Assad is ousted. Some defecting Syrian officers claim Assad has plans to hand some of the chemical weapons over to Hezbollah.
Starting from last week, the IDF began reinforcing the fence on the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights area. Military engineers implanted new motion sensors along the border, electrified parts of the fence to activate new alarm systems and planted mines in certain areas along the border.