IDF launches surprise three-day simulation of Gaza war

Israeli infantry, artillery and air force units are preparing for a potential large-scale conflict in the coastal enclave.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF announced a surprise military exercise Sunday that will last until Tuesday to test its operational readiness for combat.

The drill will prepare troops for various combat scenarios, especially in the Gaza Strip, the army said in a statement. It is part of regular training, the IDF added, and was planned ahead of time, even if it was a surprise to the soldiers.

The drill is specifically in preparation for an emergency or war situation, and includes amassing soldiers in pre-designated areas, moving troops between sectors, and integrating air force maneuvers with the ground forces. It also includes a live-fire exercise.

Among those participating in the large-scale exercise are an infantry battalion, a tank company of the 188th Brigade, an engineering force and an artillery battery. As part of the exercise, the forces will come from the north to the Tze’elim training base in the south.

Preparing for conflict in the Gaza Strip is no accident, as violence has increased on the border with Israel in recent weeks. What used to be basically a weekly riot with bomb-throwing and attempted infiltration has escalated into violence almost every night.

In addition, after a near hiatus in airborne attacks, Hamas supporters have resumed launching arson balloons into Israel.

The IDF considers Gaza to be the most explosive front that Israel faces, even if it is not a strategic threat, with two events on the horizon that could cause further deterioration: the first anniversary of the “March of Return” violent riots, which began last March, and the expected roll-out of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan after Israel’s April 9th elections.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have already rejected the American plan without even seeing it, but its publication may still cause a violent reaction among Palestinians.

The IDF’s drill this week follows the army’s test last week of its automated phone system for calling up reservists.