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February 16, 2021 2:11 pm

Israeli Air Force Holds Massive Surprise Exercise Simulating War With Hezbollah, Hitting 3,000 Targets in a Day

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli F-35 fighter jets are seen off the wing of a US Air Force refueling tanker, Oct. 12, 2020. Photo: US Air Force.

Over the last few days, the Israeli Air Force has been involved in a massive surprise exercise simulating a full-scale war with Hezbollah, in what a leading Israeli expert explained as “telling Nasrallah that he cannot bet on a small war.”

Israeli news site Walla reported that the “Rose of Galilee” exercise began on Sunday morning and ended Tuesday after 60 hours of operations.

The scenario simulated a war beginning with an IAF plane being hit by anti-aircraft fire over Lebanon, followed by strikes on terrorist targets, and then a full-scale war against Hezbollah. It included the mobilization of hundreds of reservists and attacks on thousands of targets.

One of the main objectives in the scenario was to destroy all threats to IAF aircraft, especially Russian and Iranian surface-to-air missiles, and thus achieve air superiority over Lebanon.

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Speaking anonymously, a senior IAF officer said that the Air Force also simulated protecting Israel itself from Hezbollah rockets aimed at air bases and population centers.

Altogether, he said, more than 3,000 targets a day were hit. By comparison, during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the IAF hit an average of only 100 targets per day.

Veteran Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari described the exercise as a warning to Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The IDF, he told The Algemeiner, is “demonstrating how a massive first strike may affect Hezbollah’s missile arsenal all over Lebanon in a single day.”

He explained, “A strike of this magnitude is bound to cause serious devastation, with severe damage to civilian infrastructure, and put many people hosting the missiles in danger.”

“Israel is telling Nasrallah that he cannot bet on a small war,” Yaari said.

A recent annual threat assessment from the IDF predicted that Hezbollah could engage in limited escalations on Israel’s northern border, partly to exact revenge over one of its members killed in Syria by an apparent Israeli airstrike.

The senior IAF officer also told Walla Tuesday that the simulation exercise included strikes on civilian infrastructure, which he described as “civilian targets, but they are used by Hezbollah to its advantage. … Lebanon is Hezbollah’s infrastructure to strike Israel; in the end, Hezbollah is the enemy.”

He also said that the IDF’s war scenario includes the possibility of a war that extends into Syria, as well as possible targets as far away as Iraq, where Iran controls various militias that may attempt to target Israel with missiles.

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