06:53 GMT10 April 2020
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    The large-scale military exercise comes amid fears of possible military escalation in both Palestinian territories.

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have concluded a large-scale military exercise that simulated various scenarios, including war with Hamas, the organization that runs the Gaza Strip and which is considered a terrorist group in Tel Aviv.

    During the exercise, IDF's Southern Command practiced rapid troop deployment, firepower and squad-level combat, together with air support, troop maneuvering, logistics, maintenance, transportation, medical support and administrative assistance, according to the Jerusalem Post.

    ​The surprise drill incorporated all branches of the military, including ground troops, artillery, aircraft, the armored corps and intelligence corps, the IDF said in an announcement.

    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi joined troops taking part in the drill on Tuesday, speaking with soldiers and commanders. Head of Israel's ground forces Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, as well as head of the IDF's technology division Maj. Gen. Itzik Turgeman, also visited troops during the exercise, the Jerusalem Post reported.

    The drill was designed to check the operational readiness of the Israeli military in response to increasing criticism following allegations by former military ombudsman Yitzhak Brick that the IDF is not prepared for a large-scale war.

    ​The exercise comes during heightened tensions between Israel and Gaza and in the wake of the IDF Intelligence Directorate's assessment that a military escalation is possible this year in both Gaza and the West Bank.

    UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also told the UN Security Council that there was a growing risk of war between Israel and Gaza.

    ​"With the prospects of intra-Palestinian reconciliation dimming, the people of Gaza feel more and more left to their own devices — with no representation, no relief and no way out. The Palestinians, who are the weaker people in the conflict, need international support more than ever," he said, speaking before the council on 20 February.

    This is the third large-scale IDF military drill in the last 30 days. The most recent one, a week-long exercise, concluded on 15 February. The previous drill concluded on 31 January.


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    escalation, military drills, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Palestine, Israel
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