Israeli military holds abduction simulation drill
Israel on Sunday conducted an unannounced military drill in the Jordan Valley in which one of the scenarios was the kidnapping of a soldier by Palestinian militants, dpa reported.
The exercise came less than a month after Israel freed hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier who was kidnapped in a cross-border raid by Gaza-based militants in 2006.
The drill, supervised by Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, was the first of its kind in a number of years and followed "various intelligence warnings and threats," an army statement quoted Colonel Shlomi Fayer as saying.
The broad drill was meant to test the cooperation between various army divisions and forces, Fayer said.
The scenario being simulated was the abduction of a soldier from a Jordan Valley roadblock to the nearby Palestinian city of Nablus, on the northern West Bank. Soldiers were practising the so-called "Hannibal procedure" used in the event.
Many Israeli officials have warned the Shalit deal has harmed the country's "power of deterrence" and that all should be done to avoid another abduction.
Last month, Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement agreed to a deal that would see the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisons in exchange for Shalit.
Shalit was handed over after 477 of the prisoners, including dozens who were sentenced for the worst suicide bombings in Israel, were freed. Israel is to free a further 550 prisoners in about a month.
Some 4,000 Palestinian militants remain in Israeli prisons.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other Palestinian factions have vowed to carry out more abductions targeting Israeli soldiers if Israel fails to release all Palestinian prisoners.
The military exercise also included a simulated infiltration by militants of a Jewish settlement on the northern West Bank.