Israel will begin the largest military drill seen in the country for 20 years today in preparation for any future conflict with Hezbollah. Thousands of the country’s reserve soldiers have been called to join drills in Northern Israel over the next ten days, which include mock exercises to counter multiple threats.
The last time the Israeli army carried out a drill of this size was in 1998. While the exercise nearly two decades ago had war with Syria in mind, this time the goal is to “vanquish” Hezbollah once and for all, say Israeli army officers.
The drill follows concerns over the stockpile of weapons by the Iranian backed group which has been engaged in fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Last week Israel and the US accused the UN of turning a “blind eye” while claiming that Hezbollah was carrying out military activity in southern Lebanon in violation of UN resolution 1701.
Washington and Tel Aviv, who have both designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group, wanted the UN peace keeping force to take a more muscular approach towards the Lebanese group but their efforts were blocked by Russia who threatened to veto any resolution against Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has grown in prominence through the war in Syria. While its 2006 war with Israel cemented its reputation as a strong military force, the group has emerged as a major player in the region; through Russian and Iranian support, its force of around 50,000 has tilted the balance of the region towards Tehran.
It’s thought that this drill represents Israel’s anxieties over a post- Daesh Middle East. Major powers in the region are jockeying for influence in the Middle East, as the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” begins to collapse. For the Israeli’s this means keeping Iranian influence at bay, which seems to be a much more difficult task than it has been in recent years.