According to Haaretz, the drill involved the top-ranking officers of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), as well as the headquarters staff of all the commands that would be required to successfully pursue a fight with Hezbollah, an Iranian-aligned militia based in Lebanon. Haaretz noted that Israel prepared for the scenario in which a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon would require the Israeli military to fight on other fronts — most likely Syria — where Hezbollah retains a significant military presence.
“Throughout the exercise, we examined various implications of the Russian presence” in Syria, a senior IDF officer said, as quoted by Haaretz. “We practiced everything that could be coordinated with the Russians and also what couldn’t be, how we would operate without harming their interests in the region, and on the flip side, scenarios in which the Russians made trouble.” [emphasis added]
The drill was strictly a command-level exercise, meaning it did not involve any troops on the ground. Its sole purpose was to study various threat scenarios. Some of the scenarios explored in this exercise included fighting that killed hundreds of Israelis, as well as terrorist incursions against Israeli towns and cyber-attacks.
It is also worth noting that the IDF concluded two other major military exercises last week, one of which was a joint exercise with thousands of American personnel known as Juniper Cobra.
According to Haaretz, Maj. Gen Yair Golan planned the less publicized command-level exercise, which began with high-intensity fighting against Hezbollah in Lebanon and later spread to both Syria and the Gaza Strip.
“These are large-scale exercises that are part of our preparedness for war,” Golan said. “The exercise developed to the point where Israel had more than 100 fatalities, both soldiers and civilians.”
Golan is the same official who was tasked with writing Israel’s defense policy last year while at the same time publicly admitting that Israel could not realistically take on Iran by itself. It is consequently no surprise that under Golan’s leadership, Israel is practicing simulating wars with Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Syria, where it believes it can maintain the upper hand.
“We can achieve decisive victory over Hezbollah, and we don’t need help from a single American soldier, but we cannot fight Iran alone,” he stated last year. “I consider future cooperation with the U.S. much more important than anything we’ve had in the past.”
Throughout the course of last year, Anti-Media warned not only that Israel is preparing for a major war – a development almost completely ignored by the corporate media – but also that such a war between Israel and Hezbollah had the potential to draw in Russia, as well. In May last year, we wrote:
“The other crucial omission from western media’s reports on this looming conflict is the fact that in response to Donald Trump’s April strike on the Syrian government, Russia and Iran issued a joint statement together with Hezbollah that the next time such an attack occurs, Syria’s allies will respond with force. This alliance places Russia directly on the side of Hezbollah.”
Last year, Russia threatened to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution that described Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Russia also indirectly warned Israel not to attack Iran in Syria, condemning parties that violate international law and undermine Syria’s sovereignty, almost certainly a reference to Israel and the United States.
Clearly, Russia will be somewhat of a wildcard if Israel decides to intervene more forcibly in the Syrian conflict. As it stands, the Russian government has sent a stern warning to the United States that it will not tolerate any attacks on Damascus that pose any threat to Russian personnel and that it will respond with strikes of its own.
According to Haaretz, during the exercise, Israel played out a scenario where Iran was directly involved, too.
“There’s a message here to all the players in the region, and also to guests in the region, that our relationship with the United States is not just strategic, but operative in real time,” Golan reportedly warned.