image Pentagon’s Partner, Particular Perspective. Kochavi. Photo: IDF

IDF holds Lightning Storm drill

The Israeli Defense Forces have wrapped up their latest mass exercise codenamed “Lightning Storm” conducted along the northern border with Lebanon.

According to a statement from the Israeli military, part of the drill “featured the application of the lessons learned from the recent operational events on the Lebanese border; the battle procedures and operational plans were sharpened against the backdrop of possible escalation; and the cooperation between intelligence collection, air support, intelligence and fire systems was practiced.” Operation of the IDF’s unified “Circle of Fire” target attack system was also included.

Troops from the Northern Command participated in the drill alongside others from the Air Force, Navy, Computer Service and Cyber Defense Directorate, the Intelligence Directorate and the Israel Police.

Chief of the Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, observed the drill and “examined the readiness of the forces on the ground for defense and attack scenarios, including sudden operational events on the border, accumulation of forces, rapid use of fires, and defense of northern towns,” according to the IDF statement.

Upon conclusion of the drill, Commanding Officer of the 91st Division, Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder said “The exercise we conducted improved our preparedness against Hezbollah. We raised the competence of our forces and commanders for wartime; we learned and improved, understanding the necessity of taking swift offensive action, and utilizing creativity on the battlefield. The Northern Command and the 91st Division will continue to operate as necessary to provide security for the residents of the north.”

The exercise came less than a week after Lt. Gen. Kochavi held talks with the Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col. The two military leaders discussed the security situation in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL missions in the region related to ongoing violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 by Lebanon’s Iranian-proxy Hezbollah, and the lack of enforcement by the Lebanese Armed Forces.

In other Israeli military developments, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that Brig. Gen. Fares Atila has commenced his new role as head of the Civil Administration in place of Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alyan, who is expected to be appointed as COGAT head in the near future.

According to a statement TV7 obtained from COGAT, the transition ceremony was held yesterday afternoon at the Judea and Samaria Division of the Civil Administration Command in the presence of current COGAT head Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun and Central Command head Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai.

“The role of head of the Civil Administration is one of the most sensitive, variegated, and challenging that a commander will be called upon to fill, certainly in the current reality, a time of successive crises, in which challenge follows fast on the heels of challenge,” said Maj. Gen. Abu Rukun. He added, “The Palestinian arena is undergoing far-reaching changes and confronting significant challenges that require us to adjust the patterns of our behavior. COVID-19 crisis, with all of its health and economic implications, has not skipped over the Palestinian Authority, which, despite the difficulty, is successfully dealing with the epidemic with the continuous assistance and support of the Civil Administration. Over the past year, we have dealt with, among other things, a crisis in the relationship with the Palestinian Authority that has led to its severance of civilian and security coordination with us. The crisis has forced us to ponder the issue with great care, formulate creative solutions, and develop new work strategies. Ultimately, we succeeded in this mission and have enabled the resumption of normal relations. My friend Ghassan, I’d like to thank you for leaving your mark on the organization and wish you tremendous success in your upcoming role as head of COGAT. Dear Fares, you are facing a series of challenges that will shape the upcoming period of time. I have no doubt that you will succeed in your new role and lead the organization to new heights.”

Outgoing Civil Administration head Maj. Gen. Alyan stated, “One year and eight months ago, I stood here, filled with excitement, and accepted the command of the Civil Administration and joined the COGAT family. I am grateful for the privilege of serving as commander of a unique, professional, and complex organization, one that wields extensive influence on shaping the reality and future of the Judea and Samaria region and whose efforts add value to the decision-making table.”

Describing his service as “a time rife with challenges that presented us with dangers and opportunities, starting with the trade crisis and ending with the spread of the COVID-19, cessation of civilian and security coordination, and additional political issues that are at stake and greatly impact the current situation in Judea and Samaria,” Maj. Gen. Alyan said he can “look back and am proud to say that together – commanders, officers, soldiers, and Civil Administration employees – we have been able to post impressive accomplishments in a range of challenges and bring about security stability in the entire region together with the Judea and Samaria Division, the Central Command, the ISA, the Israel Police, and the Border Guard. We must bear in mind that there is still a long way to go and lots to do, but I am certain, and especially am sure that you, the Civil Administration staff, will continue successfully along that road under Fares’ experienced leadership while working to maintain security stability in the Judea and Samaria region under any circumstance that calls for action.”

New Civil Administration leader Brig. Gen. Atila said that, “with a powerful sense of mission, I take on the command of the Civil Administration. I recognize this placement of trust in me and view it is a great privilege as well as a commitment to lead as head of the organization.”

After acknowledging, “There are many challenges facing the Civil Administration,” Brig. Gen. Atila expressed belief that “our professional and value-driven fortitude, know-how, and human capital have led and will yet lead to impressive achievements.  We are standing during this unique and challenging period at a critical, and possibly even historical, crossroads.   Changes around the world may lead to a change in the way the world runs or may constitute a regional opportunity for shaping and stabilizing the area.”

“At this sensitive time, all of us – you and me, commanders and civilians as one – are called upon to act. We must become the professional, strong, unified, impactful, human infrastructure that serves as the mission, operational edge for implementation of the policy outlined by state authorities,” he added, underscoring, “Together we will continue to make a contribution and succeed in our important mission – the improvement of the quality of life for all of the region’s populations and preservation of its security stability.”