Israeli Military Kicks Off 'Chariots of Fire' War Games Amid Heightened Tensions

The IDF hopes to complete the exercise this year, unlike 2021 when it was interrupted by actual fighting

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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IDF military exercise in the West Bank, last year.
IDF military exercise in the West Bank, last year.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israel Defense Forces began a month-long war exercise on Monday, hoping that the drill won't be preempted by actual fighting, as was the case last year, when the Gaza war broke out in May.

"Chariots of Fire," which includes soldiers from all branches of the military and thousands of combat reservists, is taking place against the backdrop of heightened security tensions, with a string of attacks having taken the lives of 19 people over the past seven weeks. In the most recent attack targeting Israelis, in the central city of Elad, three were killed.

At least 27 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the same period, some related to operations to locate the suspects behind the attacks.

Any flare-up of violence in the West Bank, Gaza or in Israel could mean the IDF may have to cancel or curtail the major exercise, which aims to increase the IDF's readiness and to examine the forces' ability to conduct a powerful and prolonged campaign.

Monday's exercises in particular involved the use of air-defense and logistics systems that would respond to extensive rocket fire into the country's north – which intelligence assessments suggest is likely in the case of another war.

The IDF says the Israeli public should expect active movement of security forces – military and armored vehicles, aircraft and vessels – over the course of the exercise, which should last for about four weeks.

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