17:18 GMT02 December 2020
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    Israel’s military has stepped up its alert status amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, according to a Sunday report by Israeli TV station Channel 12.

    The Times of Israel noted the report cited no sources, only saying the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had “completed a series of steps in recent days to ensure that it can respond to any developments, including any attempt by Iran to hit Israel, either from Gaza, Lebanon or Syria.”

    The news comes shortly after the conclusion of massive war games by the IDF.

    Last week, the IDF completed its "most extensive" military exercises in two years, with all military branches rehearsing a variety of possible offensive and defensive operations, Sputnik reported. The drills centered on the possibility of a conflict with Hezbollah, the Iran-aligned Shiite militia that controls much of southern Lebanon. The last time the IDF and Hezbollah came to blows in 2006, the militia fought Israeli tanks to a standstill, eventually forcing them to withdraw from the country.

    Potential scenarios run through by the IDF also included massive rocket bombardments of Israeli territory, potential battlefield problems such as disabled or intermittent communications and damaged runways and carrying out airstrikes against a country equipped with Russian-made S-300 or S-400 air defense systems, Sputnik reported.

    “This is readiness,” the IDF tweeted on June 20. That same day, US President Donald Trump called off retaliatory airstrikes on Iran only minutes before they were set to begin. Tel Aviv’s fear is that if war breaks out, attacks against Israel could come not only from Iran itself, but from Iranian forces in Syria and Iranian-backed forces across the region, including Hezbollah but also Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip or even Ansar Allah, the Zaidi militant movement in Yemen also known as the Houthis, the Times of Israel noted.

    In May, when militants in Gaza exchanged missile fire with the IDF, although Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system engaged many of the incoming projectiles, many more got through than have in the past, Sputnik reported. Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, boasted on its Shehab News Agency that Palestnian militants have devised a way to penetrate the Iron Dome by overwhelming it with targets.

    "We employed the tactic of massive launches toward a single target to overcome the Iron Dome," Hamas said in a June 5 video broadcast on Shehab. "The heaviest fire was used after [Israel] hit high-rise buildings … The pace of launches was the fastest in our history, 700 rockets in 30 hours.”

    On Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton visited Israel for a tripartite regional security conference with his Israeli and Russian counterparts, Meir Ben-Shabbat and Nikolai Patrushev, respectively. He also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the country’s defense minister.

    Bolton, one of the loudest voices in the Trump administration for military action against Tehran, found a fitting duet partner in Netanyahu, who expressed his great pleasure Sunday at the news of crippling new sanctions against Iran by the United States.

    “The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of massive cash into Iran’s economy would moderate Iran. They argued that Iran would become inward-focused, would start nation-building. And in fact, the very opposite is happening,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with the US diplomat.

    “Iran used those hundreds of billions of dollars to fund empire building, not nation building,” Netanyahu said, noting Iran was “devouring one state after the other.”

    “Likewise, our Arab neighbors say exactly the same thing. They saw Iran’s aggression and Iran’s increased support from terror groups that threaten them, from the Shiite militias in Iraq to the Houthis in Yemen,” he said.

    Bolton warned Iran not to underestimate Washington for electing to use sanctions instead of airstrikes, saying the the US military "is rebuilt new and ready to go.”


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    war games, John Bolton, IDF, readiness, Iron Dome, proxy war, Hezbollah, Iran, Israel
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