The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has deployed thousands of air, sea and land personnel to the Lebanese border for its biggest military drill in almost two decades, a show of strength designed to intimate Hezbollah and Iran even as their power grows in neighbouring Syria.
Beginning Monday night, soldiers and reservists are simulating a 10-day-long war with the Lebanese militant group to prepare for “preserving the current stability in the northern sector”, a military official said, as well as “scenarios we’ll be facing in the next confrontation with Hezbollah”.
The ‘Or Hadagan’ or ‘Light of the Grain’ drill – which has taken 18 months to plan – will utilise fighter planes, ships, submarines, drones, cyber and canine units and Israel’s missile defence system. Two field hospitals and trucks and helicopters for evacuating casualties will also be set up.
Elite units will also practice disarming bombs and locating and fighting in the tunnels Hezbollah is believed to have dug in south Lebanon.
The exercise will begin with small border skirmishes and escalate into a full-scale war – with the ultimate aim of permanently vanquishing the Lebanese opponents. Soldiers playing the role of the enemy will don Hezbollah’s signature yellow and green flag and guerilla-style uniforms as well as fake weapons and explosive vests.
Both the Shia Lebanese militant organisation and its allies in Iran have sworn the destruction of Israel. Following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire but never signed a formal peace deal, meaning they are technically still at war.