Israel - IDF drills takeover of Palestinian city
Israel - The Kfir Brigade on Monday conducted a first-of-its-kind drill imitating the takeover and occupation of a Palestinian city.
GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi explained that "today the situation in Judea and Samaria is calm, but our job as an army is to prepare for extreme circumstances".
Kfir, a decorated brigade experienced in urban warfare, operates mostly in the West Bank. During the drill participating troops received an assignment to overtake a Palestinian city where terror organizations were working from within civilian areas.
Mizrahi, who arrived at the Zeelim base in the Negev to observe the drill, explained the importance of preparing for every possible scenario in the West Bank.
"As of now I don't foresee negative developments in the West Bank. I believe we have a year until we have to reassess the situation unless there is an event that causes escalation, for example at Temple Mount," he said.
"If such developments do occur we will be standing before organized forces with individual cells taking part. We must remember there are agents in the West Bank that have not disappeared entirely from the Palestinian scenery and could take part in anti-Israel activity. We may even pay a certain price in the beginning, but we will know how to handle it."
Mizrahi added that while most of the Palestinians were "normative", some "do not recognize Israel".
During the drill soldiers practiced passing through alleys and homes, facing Palestinian gunmen, terror attacks with explosive devices, and ethical issues with Palestinian civilians.
Brigade Commander Colonel Oren Avman received continuous reports on battles, including the number of victims and MIAs. He said the drill would help Kfir to expand beyond urban warfare. "We must prove that we can expand our abilities and allow commanders to give us missions in any type of arena," he said.
Avman added that his brigade may indeed be called upon to make use of its new skills. "The calm we have today is the product of a decade of intense activity on the part of the security establishment, and not because anyone has lost the motivation to carry out attacks," he said.
He also dismissed criticism of his brigade for past instances of insubordination, such as the creation of signs calling on soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate settlers, and the shooting incident involving a bound Palestinian in Naalin.
"These were events that occur as part of the maturation process of a combat brigade, certainly within the confines of the complicated reality in which it functions," he said.
"We condemn and root out such occurrences, and those who know the brigade know there is a wide gap between the number of such events and the brigade's wide-ranging operations."
Mizrahi said he had appointed a humanitarian aid officer to deal with any trouble that may arise when soldiers come into contact with civilian populations. He said the commanders should be able focus only on the mission at hand. "Woe to us if what stops us is Goldstone," he said. "We have had conventions and debates, and we know what we did and how we must act."