The Israeli military on Wednesday conducted its largest snap drill in years as tensions rise with Iran over its nuclear programme and civil war rages in neighbouring Syria.
Military chief Lt Gen Benny Gantz ordered the exercise to test the competence and preparedness of several units in the armed forces,a military statement said. It called the drill in northern and central Israel part of a routine inspection that does not indicate any changes in the countrys alert levels.
Tens of thousands of soldiers were mobilized for the exercise,including artillery and air force personnel,making the drill unique because of the number of soldiers and senior officers involved,several officials said.
As part of the exercise,troops were dispatched by air from the central part of the country to the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights,captured from neighbouring Syria in the 1967 Mideast war,the officials said. The drill ended with a live fire exercise in the Golan.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly said they fear Syrias stockpile of chemical weapons and missiles might fall into the hands of anti-Israel militants. Israel is also concerned that Iran is close to developing nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied such claims.
Israel has been warning of an Iranian nuclear threat for nearly two decades. The countrys leaders have recently suggested they would be prepared to strike Irans nuclear facilities unilaterally.
The military has been systematically planning ways to stop the Iranians for years,acquiring military aircraft,bombs and refuelling planes and testing long-range missile systems in exercises that could serve as a model for striking targets in Iran,some 1,000 miles away.