Wednesday, October 28, 2020

How will the Abraham Accord affect the Future of Iran?

 On this short video, Nathan Jones and Bill Salus discuss the topics of the Abraham Accord and Iran and the Nuclear Future of Iran There is an ancient prophecy about Iran that appears ready to find fulfillment!

Iran vows to liberate Golan Heights from Israel

The view from Mount Bental, overlooking the border with Syria in the Golan Heights, August 22, 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi told Syria’s ambassador to Iran supported “resistance” to retake the Golan Heights from Israel. The Syrian regime views the Golan as part of Syria, but the US and Israel recognize it as part of Israel. In the last week, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Iran and its ally Hezbollah against entrenching near the Golan. 

The meeting comes as Iran claims it has put its top air defenders on notice in northwest Iran that Iran will not allow any type of aggression. A visit by a major general to Tabriz showed that Iran was watching closely developments in Azerbaijan, which is fighting Armenian forces in a disputed area. (Read More)

Hizballah mobilizes reservists to counter Israel’s military drill – report

The Iran-backed Lebanese Hizballah has reportedly mobilized extra reservists on the southern Lebanese border in response to the large-scale five-day military exercise Israel launched on Sunday, Oct. 25.


On a visit to the North, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Monday, “If Hizballah attacks Israel, Lebanon will in the end pay the price, and we’re prepared for a moment that I hope will not come.” The exercise “Deadly Arrow” simulates a war with Hizballah in which Israeli forces break through to southern Lebanon to win the day.


The local Daily Star reported that Hizballah had acted “as a precaution in case the drill was a ploy to launch a limited attack” on its border strongholds.


Gantz went on to comment more optimistically “I also hear positive voices in Lebanon that are even talking about peace with Israel, who are implementing processes with us like shaping the maritime border,” he said, referring to the US-brokered talks for resolving the dispute over the sea border which that runs through rich energy deposits.


Lebanese national media reported that as the IDF exercise got underway, low-altitude overflights were sighted over the southern towns of Hasbaya, Arqoub, Jabal al-Sheikh, Marjayoun, Keserwan and Metn, and reconnaissance drones appeared over Jezzine.


Lebanon remains at war with Israel. Still, President Michel Aoun’s daughter, Claudine, said this week that she supported the idea of peace with Israel provided that “all problems are solved” – some pretty stiff, like all the borders and “the Palestinian refugees.”


Since July, Israel’s northern front has been on a state of preparedness after Hizballah vowed to avenge the death of one of its fighters in an Israeli air strike over Syria. Hizballah, a powerful political force in Beirut, belongs to the Iranian-led “resistance front” which is committed to Israel’s destruction. It is backed by a vast arsenal of some 150,000 missiles largely interred underground.


This week, two covert Iranian nuclear arms development sites were revealed by opposition leaders in Washington. They too operate largely underground, like most of Iran’s important military facilities.  


Two American lawmakers were prompted this week to initiate a bipartisan bill for providing Israel with US bunker-buster munitions to meet any expanded Iranian nuclear or proxy threat. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer and Florida Republican Brian Mast, specified the 14,000-kg Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).

Satellite photos show construction at Iran’s Natanz nuclear site

Construction at Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility that experts believe may be a new, underground centrifuge assembly plant, annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, October 26, 2020. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility, satellite images released Wednesday showed, just as the UN’s nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran was building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack last summer.

Since August, Iran has built a new or regraded road to the south of Natanz toward what analysts believe is a former firing range for security forces at the enrichment facility, images from San Francisco-based Planet Labs show.

A satellite image Monday shows the site cleared away with what appears to be construction equipment there. The construction comes as the US nears Election Day in a campaign pitting President Donald Trump, whose maximum pressure campaign against Iran has led Tehran to abandon all limits on its atomic program, and Joe Biden, who has expressed a willingness to return to the accord. The outcome of the vote likely will decide which approach the US takes. Heightened tensions between Iran and the US nearly ignited a war at the start of the year.

Analysts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies say they believe that site is undergoing excavation.

“That road also goes into the mountains so it may be the fact that they’re digging some kind of structure that’s going to be out in front and that there’s going to be a tunnel in the mountains,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the institute who studies Iran’s nuclear program. “Or maybe that they’re just going to bury it there.” READ MORE  

The goal: A regional alliance against Islamic terrorism

Israel-Sudan

The normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan seems to be dealing a particularly severe blow to the Hamas terrorist organization.

Arab affairs expert Yoni Ben Menachem, a senior researcher for the Jerusalem Center, explained in a conversation with Arutz Sheva how much damage the agreement causes to Hamas.

“Sudan has been a major smuggling route from Iran to Hamas through third-party contacts. At some point it reached such dimensions that Iranian ships would dock in Port Sudan and openly unload weapons that would be then loaded on trucks and convoys would leave the country, go through Egypt to the Sinai and from there through tunnels to Hamas in Gaza,” he said.

“The Sudanese went so far as to allow the Iranians to set up an ammunition factory meant for Hamas in Gaza. Israel, according to foreign reports, bombed this factory, which was a source of production of weapons for terrorism," Ben Menachem added.

Hamas is trying to incite the citizens of Sudan against normalization, he continued. "Hamas is counting on the Islamic forces within Sudan and especially on the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the country. There are contacts between all kinds of Islamic parties to form a political front that will oppose normalization with Israel, but the Sudanese army, which is pushing for an agreement with Israel, does not intend to let that happen and they believe there will be support for the agreement. It seems that the people of Sudan also understand that their path out of international exclusion in order to improve the economy goes through Israel."

Ben Menachem also noted that there is one major goal behind the relations that are being forged with Arab countries. "Sudan is a strategically important country in the Red Sea and this is important for Israel. There is an intention here to establish a regional alliance that will include Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan and later probably Saudi Arabia as well.”

"Such an alliance will have three goals: To deal with the Iranian threat and to curb Iran's expansionist tendencies in the Middle East, curb the strengthening and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood axis led by Turkey and Qatar while fighting radical Islamic terrorism and also to bridge the gap between Israel and the Palestinians in an attempt to reach an agreement, after Mahmoud Abbas steps down and it will be possible to move forward in this area."

US lifts ban on funding of research in Judea, Samaria, Golan

The US officially dropped its opposition Wednesday to funding joint research projects in Israel which are conducted in Judea, Samaria, or the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met at Ariel University in Samaria Wednesday to sign an agreement on scientific cooperation Wednesday, paving the way for US funding of Israeli projects regardless of their location.

The new agreement nullifies limitations imposed in the 1970s on US-Israeli research cooperation which included a territorial clause, barring the US from providing funding for projects which went beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem announced Wednesday that the two sides had signed amended versions of three research agreements, ending the geographic restrictions.

The three agreements include the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation (BARD).

In addition, the two sides signed a Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement (STA), establishing a new government-to-government framework facilitating joint technological research and scientific innovation.

“Just as we have seen tremendous regional progress on the Abraham Accords, we are also seeing the tangible benefits of President Trump’s policies for bilateral cooperation with Israel,” said U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

“Upon entry of force of the Protocol signed here in Judea and Samaria, more Israeli partners will be eligible to receive funding for scientific collaboration in a wide variety of fields. The U.S. – Israel Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement will further strengthen our deep science and technology ties and help promote economic security for both our countries.”

Israeli officials told Axios that Ambassador David Friedman had pushed for the change to the research agreements, intending it as a gesture to Netanyahu after the Prime Minister suspended plans to apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Friedman has denied the claim, however, saying the amendment to the US-Israeli research agreement was drawn up solely for the purpose of enhancing scientific cooperation between the two countries.

Israel’s minister for higher education Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) tweeted that the change constitutes a “big achievement for Israel’s sovereignty”.

DM Benny Gantz accuses: Netanyahu's conduct is a crime against State & citizens

Benny Gantz (right) and Binyamin Netanyahu

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz has launched a sharp attack against his coalition partner, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, accusing him of “endangering the economic future of the country.”

According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, Gantz is on the brink of deciding to break up the coalition over the ongoing budget dispute, saying that, “If he [Netanyahu] does not pass a budget, it will constitute a crime against the State and its citizens.”

“Every single Israeli economist – including the Governor of the Bank of Israel, senior financiers, and senior officials in the Treasury past and present – agrees that the 2021 budget must be passed,” Gantz stated, adding that, “the Likud party has not managed to explain to the citizens of this country why it is apparently unconcerned with their future welfare and only worries about its own interests – to the extent that it has consistently failed to advance the budget for the coming year.”

This is hardly the first statement Gantz has made that is sharply critical of Netanyahu; two weeks ago, Gantz gave an interview centering on the Submarine Affair (in which the Prime Minister is possibly implicated), during the course of which he said that he was “looking into the possibility of establishing a commission of inquiry into the matter.”

Yediot Aharonot also reports that in private conversations and internal briefings with his confidantes, Gantz has accused Netanyahu and the Likud party of being motivated by political considerations rather than the welfare of the country. “The conduct of the Prime Minister on the matter of the budget is destroying the country’s economy,” he fumed, noting that, “professionals from the Finance Ministry themselves are saying that the budget can be advanced and passed. His reasons for delaying are both puzzling and disturbing. It’s hard to believe that Netanyahu doesn’t realize that it will cause tremendous damage to the country if the budget isn’t passed. This will be the third year without a budget, and the Israeli economy will suffer from this for years to come, and struggle to recover from the impact, due to Netanyahu’s decision to sell out the welfare of the country for political considerations.”

Gantz was also quoted as telling those close to him that he has not ruled out the possibility of attempting to form an alternative coalition with parties from both the opposition and the coalition, in order to avert elections, even if he has to agree to the temporary appointment of his former political partner and now rival MK Moshe Yaalon (Yesh Atid-Telem) as Prime Minister, under such a scenario. “Boogie [Yaalon], elections, dismantling [the coalition], building [a new coalition] – these are all options,” Gantz said. “There are things going on quietly, under the radar, and there is a variety of options to consider even within the current composition of the Knesset. One thing is certain,” he stressed. “We in the Blue & White party know that to continue like this without a budget will cause greater damage to the Jewish People than elections would.”

Meanwhile, MK Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, stated on Wednesday morning that he would support the establishment of a coalition headed by MK Moshe Yaalon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

THE FINAL PROPHECIES ON TV

Over 2,500 years ago, the prophets of the Old Testament described a series of dramatic events that would take place in the distant future. These prophecies of future wars and strategic alignments in the Middle East have given students of Bible prophecy a clear roadmap to follow. If … you know where to look! Join Gary and Bill as they talk about his latest book today, The Final Prophecies. This new book brings the 22 chapters of Revelation to a close, focusing specifically on the last 3.5 years of the 7-year Tribulation.

US sanctions Iran's oil sector

Oil tanker and rig

US President Donald Trump's administration on Monday slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's oil sector including over sales to Syria and Venezuela, AFP reports.

Under the new measures, the administration designated the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran's petroleum ministry and the National Iranian Tanker Company under a counterterrorism authority.

The Treasury Department issued the sanctions by linking the three entities to the Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force which was earlier designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and whose commander, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US attack at Baghdad airport in January.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the sanctions should send a warning to "the few remaining buyers of Iranian crude oil."

"These designations are an important step in the maximum pressure campaign to limit the Iranian regime's ability to threaten its neighbors and destabilize the Middle East," Pompeo said in a statement.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh denounced the sanctions as a "passive reaction to the failure of Washington's policy of reducing (Iran's) crude oil exports to zero."

"I have no assets outside of Iran to be subject to the sanctions. I would sacrifice my life, belongings and reputation for Iran," Zanganeh, who was also targeted personally, wrote on Twitter.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the United States a "#SanctionAddict," tweeting, "Kick the habit."

Since 2018, the Trump administration has regularly enforced sanctions on Iran.

Earlier this month, the United States slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's financial sector, targeting 18 Iranian banks in an effort to further shut Iran out of the global banking system.

The US has begun to up the sanctions pressure on Iran on Iran after it started the process of restoring all pre-2015 UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The move to activate the “snapback” came after the UN Security Council rejected the US resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran, which expired last week.

However, the president of the UN Security Council rejected the US snapback demand, saying there was no general agreement among council members.

Israel is still waging a three-front war

Gaza terror tunnel

From the view of my Jerusalem balcony, it seems like Israel is at peace. But looking a little closer, you realize that is not the case. Developments on all three of Israel’s frontiers in recent days remind us of the low-level warfare that Arab forces are continuing to wage—and the hazards of making the concessions that Israel’s critics are always demanding.

In the south, the Israeli army uncovered yet another “terror tunnel” stretching from the Gaza city of Khan Younis into Israeli territory. Just because the tunnels are not in the headlines any more, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Israel has destroyed or sealed dozens of them over the years; but Hamas keeps building more.

Whenever I think about the tunnels, I am reminded of the incredible “ mea culpa” that former U.S. State Department peace processor Dennis Ross wrote about in the Washington Post a few years back. He recalled how when Hamas was in the early phase of tunnel-building, the Israelis began restricting the importation to Gaza of building materials that could be used for that purpose. So, the Obama administration sent Ross to the region--to pressure Israel.

Ross later wrote: "I argued with Israeli leaders and security officials, telling them they needed to allow more construction materials, including cement, into Gaza so that housing, schools and basic infrastructure could be built. They countered that Hamas would misuse it, and they were right.”

Assured by the Obama administration's insistence that the cement would not be used for military purposes, Israel allowed it to be imported. The result? Hamas built "a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts and shelters for its leaders, fighters and rockets," Ross acknowledged. They built them with "an estimated 600,000 tons of cement," some of which was "diverted from construction materials allowed into Gaza." READ MORE

Report: 7 Al Qaeda leaders killed in Syria airstrike

Predator drone

The US military now believes that seven senior leaders of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization were killed in a recent US airstrike in northwestern Syria, the US Central Command said Monday.

The airstrike was conducted by US drone aircraft on October 22nd near Idlib, during a meeting of Al Qaeda members.

“The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carryout global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians,” said Central Command spokeswoman Maj. Beth Riordan.

“AQ-S takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate terrorist activities,” she added. “With our allies and partners, we will continue to target al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.”

Last Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a total of 14 jihadists were killed in the strike, including five foreigners and six jihadi commanders.

The British-based Observatory said the strike targeted a dinner meeting of jihadists in the village of Jakara in the area of Salqin.

Monday, October 26, 2020

US threatens to destroy Iranian missiles shipped to Venezuela

The United States is warning it will destroy potential Iranian long-range missile shipments delivered to the Maduro regime in Venezuela, a senior administration official tells Fox News.

"The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted,” said Elliott Abrams, the State Department Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela.

"We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there,” added a senior administration official. (Read More)


Iran’s nuclear work goes forward at 2 covert sites – opposition

Nuclear work continued surreptitiously at two undisclosed nuclear weapons development sites operated by the Revolutionary Guards after Iran signed a nuclear accord (JCPOA) with six world powers in 2015. Both sites are operated by the Revolutionary Guards. The revelations came from the US office of National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in a special briefing this week.


One of the two covert nuclear sites is located at Sorkh-e Hesar near Tehran, just north of the Khojir missile development facility. The second, called the Marivan Site, is situated near the town of Abadeh in Isfahan province.


The first site never interrupted its operations. Its structure remains intact under the same supervision as before by the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) and its director, IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI US office ,explained. Indeed, it has expanded. As recently as 2017, the Chamran geophysics Group moved in to work on projects related to underground nuclear tests in tunnels while monitoring the impact of explosions.


The head of the Chamran group is named as Dr. Mohammad Javad Zaker, a lecturer at Beheshi university. His deputy is said to be Hamed Aber.  The Sorkh-e Hesar’s location near the missile development center provides a military cloak and cover for movements around the clandestine nuclear project.


The second SPND site called the “Marivan Site,” is located near the town of Abadeh in Isfahan province and was first uncovered by the opposition group in 2017. It was built under the supervision of Ali Shamkhani, current Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council. According to data based on the Nuclear Archive, a portion of which Israel seized in 2018, the Marivan Site was an important test site for large-sale high- explosive tests for the development of nuclear weapons.


“What we have found out is that this site and the area surrounding it is completely controlled by the IRGC. Locals are not allowed in the area,” said Jaffarzadeh.


The Atomic Energy Agency nuclear watchdog has raised concerns about “Marivan.” After its location was revealed, the watchdog demanded access to this and other locations suspected of nefarious nuclear and military activity.

Islamic State warns Saudi Arabia after allies normalize ties with Israel

Shi'ite Muslim clerics arrive for a mass funeral for victims of a suicide attack on a mosque, in Qatif, east Saudi Arabia, May 25, 2015 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

How likely is it that followers of the Islamic State (ISIS) will heed its call on social media for attacks on Saudi oil pipelines and other infrastructure after the kingdom allowed planes en route to and from Israel to cross its territory?

The cryptic audio message on the Telegram messaging platform earlier this month called for retaliation for Saudi support for the United Arab Emirates’ and Bahrain’s normalization of ties with Israel. 

While Middle East experts do not have a crystal ball, they are skeptical that this appeal will lead to something bigger.

“ISIS is ‘whistling in the dark.’ They have lost their equipment and the services of their formerly numerous volunteers,” Dr. Oded Eran, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told The Media Line.

He was referring to the war against Islamic State, in which it lost its last swathe of territory, in the Syrian town of Baghouz. In March 2019.

Brian G. Williams, an Islamic history professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, told The Media Line: “They have gone underground, operating a shadow war.”

“We [US and allied forces] didn’t wipe them out, even though they are much diminished by the war and most fighters did not come home,” Williams said. READ MORE 

 

Israel to send $5 million of wheat to Sudan

Wheat field

Israel will send $5 million worth of wheat to Sudan, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said Sunday, just days after an announcement that the two countries have agreed to normalize relations.

"We are looking forward to a warm peace and are sending $5 million worth of wheat immediately to our new friends in Sudan," Netanyahu's office said on Twitter.

Sudan has embarked on a rocky transition under a joint civilian-military administration since the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, but it has struggled with severe economic woes, including a sharp depreciation of the Sudanese pound and skyrocketing consumer prices.

A tripling of the bread price late in 2018 was the initial trigger for street protests against Bashir that led to his ouster.

The northeast African country consumes two million tons of wheat annually, according to official figures, relying heavily on imports.

"Israel will be working closely with the USA to assist Sudan's transition," Netanyahu added.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed an accord at the White House last month to normalize ties with the Jewish state, but Sudan carries added symbolism as an Arab nation that has been at war with Israel.

News of the Sudan-Israel normalization came on Friday, shortly after US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was formally moving to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that strangled Khartoum's economy for decades.

Sudan will be only the fifth Arab country to forge diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

"Soon an Israeli delegation will meet in Sudan with a Sudanese counterpart in order to discuss cooperation in many fields including migration, which we are discussing," Netanyahu said, in remarks at the start of a cabinet meeting Sunday.

"We are expanding the circle of peace. Additional countries will yet join only if we consistently adhere to this policy."

The move to normalize ties has laid bare deep societal splits in Sudan, with some calling it a betrayal and others viewing it as a way to save the sinking economy.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Why is Iran suddenly interested in Palestinian Islamic Jihad again?

Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants take part in the funeral of their comrade in the southern Gaza Strip November 14, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

For almost a year, Palestinian Islamic Jihad was largely absent from Iran’s media and political push. Now Iran is back, talking about Islamic Jihad in the media, a day after Ankara’s press also highlighted the group. The articles do not appear to be a coincidence, because the group claimed it was “mobilizing” in Gaza over the weekend.  


After conflict with Israel in 2019, PIJ suffered setbacks and was also concerned about threats to its leadership. Baha Abu Al-Ata had been killed in November by an Israeli airstrike and Syrian reports said that the home of its deputy leader Akram al-Ajouri had also been targeted. Iran follows the group closely; PIJ is believed to be an Iranian proxy, armed, advised and provided cash and technical assistance over the years by Tehran. It is Iran’s footprint in Gaza, and perhaps its eyes and ears as well.

The terrorist group also provides Iran leverage and options, including plausible deniability should Iran want to test Israel. That appears clear from how the group has offices in Gaza and Damascus, two key fronts for Tehran against Jerusalem. 

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is frequently in contact with Islamic Jihad. Last year he called PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah to support its attacks on Israel. He spoke to the group or put out statements linked to it in February and July of this year. Today Iran is angry about the Israel-Sudan agreement and highlights Hamas opposition to the agreement.

In the past Iran has sought to move weapons via Sudan. Hamas members once enjoyed more support from Sudan and its Muslim Brotherhood contact there. Ismail Haniyeh went to Sudan in 2012, according to reports. Today he is very angry that Khartoum is talking to Israel. Iran is angry as well.  

Iran’s Fars News says that the Islamic Jihad “military branch” Saraya al-Quds had announced an alert and mobilization over the weekend. Ostensibly the reason for this was the deterioration in the health of Maher al-Akhras who is on hunger strike. Akhras, a 49-year-old from the West Bank, has been on hunger strike for three months. READ MORE 

IDF launches its largest drill of the year, simulating war against Hezbollah

IDF troops are seen during an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terror group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability, it said.

The multi-day drill — dubbed “Deadly Arrow” — will predominantly focus on how various headquarters and command centers work together and communicate in wartime, the military said. It was also set to include physical maneuvers by ground forces, naval vessels and aircraft.

“The goal of the exercise is improving the IDF’s attack ability and testing all levels [of the military] in an integrated way,” the IDF said in a statement. The military said the exercise would simulate a “multi-front scenario focused on the northern arena.”

The IDF believes that any future war against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group would not only be waged in southern Lebanon, but would also include attacks from Syria and potentially the Gaza Strip as well.

“Headquarters, conscripted troops and reservist forces are taking part in the exercise, alongside the air force, navy and ground forces, as well as the intelligence, technology and logistics, teleprocessing and cyber defense directorates,” the IDF said.

The exercise — the largest planned for this year — was significantly scaled back due to restrictions because of the coronavirus. Nonetheless, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi faced concerns and criticism within the military over his decision to go ahead with the exercise despite the pandemic.

“We will stress that the exercise has been adjusted to follow special health instructions and it is being held under the full adherence to the instructions to ensure the health of the participants,” the IDF said.

The military warned Israelis that they were likely to notice a larger than normal presence of aircraft overhead throughout the country in general and that people in the cities of Haifa and Ashdod were likely to see large numbers of troops, vehicles and ships around the ports.

The IDF generally considers the Hezbollah terror group to be its most significant military foe. The Iran-backed Shiite militia, with whom Israel fought a war in 2006, is believed to maintain an arsenal of some 130,000 rockets and missiles — a larger collection of projectiles than many nations possess — and the organization has amassed considerable battle experience from fighting in Syria throughout the country’s civil war.