IDF to Hold Military Drill Near Israel-Lebanon Border

YERUSHALAYIM

Lebanese protesters take part in a rally on the anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, on the border between Israel and Lebanon, northern Israel, May 25. (Avi Mor/Flash90)

The IDF on Thursday announced an exercise on the Israel-Lebanon border, saying it will include artillery fire and stressing that the maneuvers were scheduled in advance, as part of the troops’ routine training.

Residents of towns near the border are expected to hear the echoes of explosions and fire throughout the morning, the IDF said.

The drill comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon in recent weeks over rights to the Karish (“Shark”) offshore gas field. The area is at the heart of the maritime dispute between the two countries: Israel claims Karish as part of its exclusive economic zone, while Lebanon insists the field is in contested waters and should not be developed until the dispute is resolved.

Last week, Israeli ministers issued a joint statement saying that the country was “prepared to defend” the rig, following Hezbollah’s threats. Earlier in May, Israel and Cyprus held a joint military exercise to simulate war deep inside Lebanon against Hezbollah.

The IDF also played out a wartime scenario during the massive “Chariots of Fire” exercise, predicting thousands of dead in Lebanon and 300 in Israel in a future war with the Hezbollah terrorist group. According to the IDF’s estimates, Hezbollah would launch an average of about 1,500 rockets daily at Israel.

On Tuesday, reports said Lebanon was planning to offer a compromise to U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein, who came to Beirut at the invitation of Lebanon’s government to resolve the dispute with Israel over maritime gas resources.

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