image Photo: IDF, Reuters

Nasrallah slams IDF drill, threatens war

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against intimidation and warned any attack would be reciprocated.

“We are not looking for a confrontation but we don’t leave the blood of our martyrs. If a confrontation happens we will respond to it … if you attack our cities we will attack yours,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

“After all the recent threats from Israel, no one can guarantee that it won’t lead to war. Israel will see things it hasn’t seen since its inception,” the leader of the Lebanon-based terror group reportedly threatened.

Nasrallah’s comments were made in apparent reference to several recent IDF drills. This week the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted the “surprise” 4-day Vered Hagalil exercise in preparation of the possibility of war on the northern frontier with Lebanon and Syria in the north. Combat readiness training included the simulation of strikes on 3,000 Hezbollah targets within a 24-hour period. An estimated 85% of IAF personnel participated in the drill.

The IAF also participated in the joint annual Juniper Falcon aerial defense exercise with the United States Air Force, which concluded yesterday. The military maneuvers were conducted simultaneously in Israel, Germany and the United States; including a range of simulated scenarios in which surface-to-surface rockets, mortars or other aerial threats targeted the Jewish State. Iraq and Yemen were added to the list of prospective enemy states this year, joining Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Israel’s arch-enemy Iran.

An official statement distributed separately by the IDF and U.S. European Command (EUCOM) detailed that “the primary goal” of the exercise was to enhance interoperability, while strengthening and expanding strategic “cooperation, coordination and mutual learning,” including to “ensure U.S. and Israeli forces are ready and prepared to respond to any contingency, particularly those involving ballistic missile defense or crisis response.”

The readout further stressed the “United States’ ironclad commitment to assist in the defense of Israel,” even as some “mutual training objectives” had to be carried out virtually due to “challenges presented by COVID-19.” Juniper Falcon was a visual display of the unbreakable bond between Jerusalem or Washington regardless of administration changes in the White House.

In addition to the aforementioned drills, the Israeli military also carried out the largescale mass exercise codenamed “Lightning Storm” along the northern border with Lebanon on 9-10 February.

The IDF issued a statement at the time saying that part of the exercise “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.” 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.

IDF 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.”

Israel has also allegedly stepped up strikes on Iranian proxy militias – including Hezbollah –  in Syria over recent months, aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from establishing a permanent presence there.