Tens of thousands of Israeli troops in surprise Golan drill. Khamenei: No bending to the West

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
By Paul Martin

DEBKAfile
September 19, 2012

Reservists drafted at no notice, Air Force, Central Command and other IDF units were flown to Israel’s northern Golan border early Wednesday, Sept. 19, for a surprise exercise called by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz under the codename “National Asset.”
The official IDF announcement tried to downplay its importance, describing it as a “planned, routine event.” However, DEBKAfile’s military sources say the war game is the biggest the IDF has conducted in the eight years since the second Lebanon war on Hizballah in 2006, with tens of thousands of soldiers and senior officers, including the artillery and the air force taking part.
Over the last weekend, witnesses reported heavy traffic of convoys of tank and APC carriers and military vehicles with emergency store markings heading north, just days after the IDF completed a large-scale war game on Israel’s Syrian and Lebanese borders simulating a Hizballah attack.
Since early September, therefore, the Israeli Defense Forces have been in the midst of preparations which have the appearance of readiness for a real war rather than an exercise. Those preparations peaked Wednesday under a codename which signified its goal: the defense of national assets.
Another sign of an impending conflict was provided by US diplomats who Monday began destroying classified documents and sensitive equipment at the Beirut embassy. As Islamist anti-US violence raged across Arab and Muslim countries, the State Department said this was a precautionary measure, without naming any specific threat. The trashing of embassy documents usually signifies preparations to evacuate an US embassy at short notice. It would be imperative in a war situation to keep them out of Hizballah hands.
The official IDF announcement described the exercise as focusing on fire power under the command of chief Artillery Commander, Brig. Gen. Ro’i Riftin and due to end Wednesday night. The rapid deployment of military strength on this scale for a live-fire drill is required practice for an army facing the onset of war aggression.

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