IDF preparing for possible clashes with Hezbollah

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has pre-approved several courses of action and raised the alert level at the northern border; 163 public shelters in northern city upgraded.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently pre-approved several options for IDF action against Hezbollah and raised the alert level along the entire northern border, Walla reported Sunday.

“[Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah has been weighing for a while whether to take chances at the border,” a senior security official said, “because he is incorrectly calculating the degree of operational preparedness of the IDF for all kinds of scenarios.”

Nasrallah recently made speeches claiming that Israel is disintegrating from within due to the split in the nation over judicial reform, including within Israel’s armed forces, in his assessment of his enemy’s weakness.

Gallant’s moves come in the wake of several cross-border provocations initiated by Hezbollah over the last several weeks. These include operatives approaching the border fence with explosives, firing a tank missile randomly over the border and fireworks at Israeli troops, and a small group of young men scaling the border wall to steal an IDF surveillance camera.

Last week, while keeping to its side of the border, the terror group’s elite Radwan force walked along the line opposite the northern Israeli Dovev village dressed in military uniforms and carrying large bags, which were assumed to be holding weapons. They were identified quickly, and an IDF company was hurriedly brought to keep a strict eye on the unit, which has reportedly been trained to infiltrate Israel in case of hostilities, to take civilians hostage, kidnap soldiers, and even take over Israeli settlements. No clashes resulted from the incident.

Aside from the possibility of Hezbollah crossing one too many red lines without a sufficiently deterrent response, which the northern residents are already complaining about, the IDF may soon remove a small outpost that Hezbollah established several dozen meters into Israeli territory in early June.

The Iranian terror proxy had set up two tents in an area it claims for Lebanon, although it is internationally recognized as part of sovereign Israel. Jerusalem has so far taken the diplomatic route in dealing with this incursion, asking the UN to get the Lebanese government to answer its demand to take down the tents. Hezbollah reportedly quietly evacuated one of them early this month, but the other is still there; officially, Beirut is refusing to remove it.

Hezbollah, which is part of the Lebanese government, may also see this talk instead of action as another sign of Israeli weakness.

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As part of a show of IDF preparedness, the Shimshon Battalion, which patrols the sector in which Hezbollah has been most active, conducted a drill just a few days ago to test the operational readiness and response times of the regular army forces manning positions and outposts along the border in the event of an intrusion into Israeli territory.

In addition, although planned well before any of these incidents, the IDF, in late May and early June, conducted a major, two-week-long drill in the country, in which standing soldiers and reservists of the army, navy and air force all took part. The Firm Hand exercise simulated a multi-front war, with special attention paid to the north.

Working with air support, the 91st Territorial and 36th Armored Divisions practiced “defense scenarios in large numbers along the Lebanese front” and “wide-ranging offensive scenarios,” the IDF said, in what could be seen as an explicit warning to Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense and the Home Front Command completed the renovation and upgrade of 163 public shelters in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, the security cabinet announced on Sunday.

“The upgrading of the shelters is part of the national project to strengthen the defense in the northern settlements…in the Engineering and Construction Division of the Ministry of Defense and the Home Front Command,” the announcement read.

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