IDF conducts surprise military drills on Gaza border

Though planned in advance, the exercises occur amid rising tensions along the Gaza border.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began a surprise exercise Sunday morning to improve the capability and readiness of the Southern Command for combat scenarios in the Gaza Strip.

The exercise was planned in advance and will continue until Wednesday, the IDF said in a statement.

Residents can expect to see an active movement of security forces, vehicles, and aircraft in the area around the Gaza border.

Both regular and reserve forces will take part in the drill, which was designed to test the Gaza Division’s abilities to deal with a variety of developing events while maintaining cooperation between various organizations and branches of the military.

The IDF emphasized that the exercise will take place under the guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and procedures will be followed to maintain the health of all participants.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi entered quarantine for the third time last week after exposure to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Due to his quarantine, Kochavi will manage the exercise remotely through classified military communications, while Deputy Chief of Staff Eyal Zamir will manage the situation on the field.

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The current exercise is the fifth in a series of surprise “Chief of Staff Assessment” drills ordered by Kochavi.

Previous exercises tested the IDF’s readiness to handle a kidnapping in Judea and Samaria, a large-scale cyber attack on military computer systems, a war against Hezbollah along Israel’s northern border, and a sea-based attack along Israel’s northern coast.

Though planned in advance, the exercises occur amid rising tensions along the Gaza border.

The Israeli Air Force struck several targets in Gaza early Sunday morning in response to a rocket attack from Gaza that struck a warehouse in Ashkelon. The IDF said Hamas was responsible for the attack.

A similar rocket attack was launched from Gaza last week, with the IDF again striking Hamas targets in response.