Netanyahu to elite commandos: Israel Defense Forces' strength 'best answer' to antisemitism
Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with elite commando troops Tuesday evening during a major ten day long brigade-level drill and said that Israel’s military strength was the Jew’s “best answer” to antisemitism, The Jerusalem Post reports.
"Once we were a leaf blown in the wind and anyone could massacre us. Today we have strength to respond," he said while meeting with troops participating in the exercise which simulates a two-front war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
"On the eve of Hannukah the spirit of the Maccabees is here — you are the Maccabees. We overcome our enemies with extraordinary spirit that I see here, in the IDF and in all of our fighters."
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Brigade Commander Col.Kobi Heller briefed Netanyahu on the brigade’s capabilities and the threats it is expected to face.
He was also given a demonstration of the unit’s various advanced new weapons systems.
The cross-country 10 day-long exercise will see troops from the Maglan, Egoz and Duvdevan units training on a variety of scenarios, including fighting on two different fronts-in the Gaza Strip against Hamas and in the north of the country against Hezbollah.
The exercise includes broad cooperation with the Israel Air Force, including the launching of strikes in close proximity to troops. During the exercise troops also practiced the transition between fronts and combat zones, as well as fighting in both open and urban areas.
Israel has experience in fighting in two arenas at the same time such as during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 where Hamas starting carrying out terror attacks in Gaza.
But 12 years later, Israel’s enemies have changed and their military capabilities increased tremendously with massive rocket and missile arsenals aimed at the Jewish State’s homefront.
During a visit to the Meitav base at Tel Hashomer during the July 2018 recruitment of the Border Police and the Paratroopers Brigade was held, Netanayhu said that “we are managing tough fronts both in the south and in the north.”
On the southern front Israel has been engaged in three wars with the Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group over the past ten years. Hamas, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, is believed to possess an arsenal of 10,000 rockets and mortar shells.
In 2007 Israel was hit by 2433 projectiles and in 2008 during Operation Cast Lead terror groups fired 3,557 projectiles. In 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense Israel was struck by 2,771 rockets and in 2014, which coincided with Operation Protective Edge, Israel was bombarded by 4897 projectiles.
Earlier this month southern Israel was struck by close to some 400 rocket and mortar shells alone.
While the army has also been engaged with the Gaza Strip on a weekly basis for the past seven months of violent protests along the security fence, the military believes that Lebanon’s Hezbollah is the most significant strategic threat.
Backed by Iran, the Shia terror group possesses over 100,000 rockets and missiles which can strike most of Israel.
Jerusalem has repeatedly said it would not allow the shipment of advanced weaponry from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria and has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Hezbollah weapons convoys and Iranian targets.
The fighting in Syria’s civil war has also led to incoming rocket sirens wailing in Israel’s usually pastoral and serene north due to errant projectiles, drones or fighter planes crossing into Israeli airspace and Israeli missile defense systems shooting them down.
Hezbollah has also gained years of battlefield knowledge after fighting for years on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war and is also reported to have sent fighters to Yemen to train Houthi rebels which have been engaged against a Saudi-led coalition.