IDF Simulates War with Hezbollah in Cyprus Exercise

IDF Simulates War with Hezbollah in Cyprus Exercise

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

IDF Simulates War with Hezbollah in Cyprus Exercise

Dozens of Israeli military helicopters, C-130 transport aircraft, and missile ships carrying hundreds of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops – including paratroopers and special forces – carried out a week-long exercise in Cyprus simulating a possible widescale operation in enemy territory, in this case against Hezbollah. The drill, dubbed “Beyond the Horizon,” was the first of its kind in decades, and though Israeli defense officials do not expect a war with Hezbollah to occur in the near future, they want to maintain battle readiness for that eventuality. The drill, simulating a widescale airborne and seaborne landing of thousands of troops deep in Lebanese territory, took place in both urban and rural settings. The exercise simulated invading enemy positions at night, seizing the Lebanese coastal sector, and destroying the enemy’s centers of gravity. According to the IDF, both conscript and reserve troops from the 98th Paratroopers Division, along with air force units and other special forces — such as the elite Shayetet 13 navy unit took part in the drill.  

Relatedly, as part of the month-long Chariots of Fire exercise that the IDF just completed, the Israeli military assessed estimates regarding a future war with Hezbollah, including the level of destruction and casualties such a war would entail. According to the IDF’s performance studies, the number of Lebanese casualties will reach thousands of dead Hezbollah fighters and Lebanese civilians. The IDF is also estimating that Israeli military and civilian casualties will reach about 300 people, alongside 1,500 rockets striking the Israeli Home Front daily. This amount of rockets, the IDF estimates, will create approximately 80 “significant destruction zones” across Israel.  

According to the IDF, Hezbollah’s fighting center of gravity in the first days of a potential future war, aside from the rocket fire, is expecting to be its elite Radwan Force, whose goal will be to carry out attacks inside Israeli territory. As a result, the IDF believes that a maneuver into Lebanese territory in the first days of battle is critical, to deal a heavy blow to the Radwan Force in southern Lebanon, and thwart its attack plans to occupy territories and residential areas inside Israeli territory.  

Israel Air Force Simulates Widescale Strike on Iran Nuclear Facilities 

Dozens of Israeli Air Force fighter jets conducted air maneuvers over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday night, simulating striking Iranian nuclear facilities. Israeli Channel 13 News reported that over 100 aircraft, and naval submarines, participated in the drill that covered approximately 10,000 kilometers. The drill, according to the IDF, simulated long-range flights, mid-air refueling, and strikes on distant targets. During the simulated strike, the IAF jets refueled twice, as they circled Cyprus to conduct mock airstrikes in Israel.  

Contrary to earlier reports in Israeli media, it does not appear that U.S. refueling planes participated in the drill. According to Channel 13 news, the U.S. Air Force was supposed to serve as a complementary force with refueling planes during the drill. The IDF did not confirm the report, and the U.S. Central Command denied it, saying “there is no direct U.S. military involvement in that exercise.” A Pentagon spokesperson also denied the Department of Defense was “directly participating” in the drills, according to The War Zone online magazine.  

Relatedly, “in a message to Iran,” according to Channel 13 news, the Israeli navy also conducted its own exercise in the Red Sea. The training exercise simulated various scenarios, including maintaining superiority in the area and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. The exercise included a Dolphin-class submarine, the INS Tekuma, accompanied by two missile ships, the Saar 5 class INS Eilat and the Saar 4.5 class INS Hetz.  

Lapid to JPost: Israel Won’t be Bound by Potential Iran Deal 

In an exclusive interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s Foreign Minister – and alternate Prime Minister – Yair Lapid said a new nuclear deal between the West and Iran would not apply to Israel. “It doesn’t apply to us in any way, and we are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure Iran doesn’t become a threshold nuclear country,” he said. Lapid did not elaborate on the meaning of his statement, or on Israel’s potential involvement in recently reported covert actions against Iranian military officials and its nuclear program. But when asked if there has been a change in Israeli policy regarding what it is willing to do against Iran, he said: “We have told the world we are not willing to take it anymore. Iran says we can bring the war to your doorstep, because you will never bring it to ours. This is not going to happen. This is not how it’s going to play out.” “I understand why they felt that this is how it worked in previous years, but it’s not going to work with this government,” the foreign minister said. “If the Iranians are bringing war to our doorstep, then they’re going to find war at theirs. If they want to avoid it, then we will avoid it as well.”  

New York Times Suspects Israel Behind Drone Attack on Parchin 

Last week, the New York Times reported a drone strike targeted Parchin, a sensitive Iranian site for the development of missile, nuclear, and drone technology, located about 37 miles southeast of Tehran, citing “three Iranians with knowledge of the attack and…a U.S. official.” According to the report, “There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack fit a pattern of past Israeli strikes on Iran and Lebanon in a covert campaign of hostility that has been going on for years. A statement from Iran’s Ministry of Defense indicated that it viewed this as an attack, not an accident.” Meanwhile, Israeli officials declined to comment – as has become their habit regarding incidents of such a nature – while an unnamed “U.S. official confirmed suicide drones had attacked Parchin,” without disclosing responsibility for the attack.

Israel Ups Air Defenses Amid Concern over Potential Iranian Revenge Attack 

Israel has bolstered its air-defense batteries in the north out of concern that Iran, which blames it for the death of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, may launch a retaliatory attack. The defense establishment is concerned that Tehran might carry out a missile or drone attack from Lebanon or Syria. Various air-defense systems and the soldiers who operate them have been placed on high alert, KAN News reported.  

In related news, Hebrew media reported on a warning by Israeli officials to the 100 or so Israeli citizens who are in Turkey of a “concrete and immediate” threat of an Iranian attack on ordinary Israelis in the country. Channel 12’s Nir Dvori said that since Mossad has thwarted Iranian efforts to target senior Israelis and businesspeople around the world, the Iranians have widened their ambit to include ordinary Israelis to make up for their failure. Turkish officials, despite their displeasure at the publicity, understood Israel had “no choice this time,” and are also reportedly working to foil the threat.  

Israel’s National Security Council is recommending that all Israelis who are in Turkey avoid contact with strangers; not give out personal details; make sure they have the phone numbers of Israeli legations and emergency services; not discuss military service; not publicly display signs they are Israeli. 


Rockets Target Ain Al-Assad Base 

On Monday, five rockets struck the Ain Al-Assad base in Anbar province, which hosts U.S. and coalition forces. There were no casualties or damage reported. This base has repeatedly been targeted by Iran-backed militias in the past. A group called the “International Resistance” claimed responsibility on Telegram—which was previously unknown. Larger and more established Iran-backed militias have in the past constructed front groups to mask their responsibility for such attacks.  


A Warning from Lebanese Forces on Government Formation 

Foreshadowing paralysis to come, the head of the Christian party, Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea told Reuters on Wednesday that “if it’s a government that includes everyone as usual, of course we won’t approve and we won’t take part…They (Hezbollah) shouldn’t celebrate too much.” In addition to rejecting anyone aligned with Hezbollah as prime minister, he also said his party would veto any presidential nominee backed by Hezbollah. Separately, this week, Abbas Ibrahim, the general director of the General Directorate of General Security, warned “the results of this election could cause a disaster since we have large political blocs with widening gaps between them on various issues and no majority to pass laws.”  

Hezbollah Linked to Drug Smuggling Ring

The pro-Saudi news channel Al-Hadath reported this week that Hezbollah is smuggling drugs from Syria to Europe with the assistance of the Assad regime. Al-Hadath indicates that four main drug-manufacturing factories are producing Captagon, with Hezbollah managing one facility in Al-Bassah with Samer Kamal Assad, a cousin of the Syrian president, among others. This revelation comes after Jordanian officials indicated an uptick in Captagon smuggling across the Jordanian border.