VG: Israel is preparing for ground war

VG is currently providing a different kind of coverage of Israel. So far it seems they are doing some efforts to be factual, balanced and not myopically focusing on the Gaza or West Bank

Negev (VG) Israeli special forces  prepare on covert operations in hostile territory at a training facility.
By: Erlend Skevik and Harald Henden

The training here is a central part of the Israeli military preparations for a military escalation of the conflict surrounding the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Israeli military sources confirmed to VG that they are preparing for the Iran nuclear crisis to develop into a major war in the region if Iran does not yield to international sanctions.

One of the scenarios military strategists are preparing for is that Iran’s allies, Hamas and Hezbollah are dragged into the conflict.

Israeli soldiers at a military base deep in the Negev desert are now practicing on pinpoint operations with small units in hostile territory in Lebanon, Gaza or the Sinai desert. The countries’ special forces are sent here  be to prepared for the scenarios that await them on the other side of the border. Using satellite imagery, a landscape simulator exactly recreates the same ground where the planned operation are going to take place. In a small room simulated missiles are fired at a three-dimensional large screen. From a PC, the instructor may change between day and night, and change the visual or weather conditions, to create a more realistic picture.

Hush-hush

At this simulator the armor-piercing anti-tank weapon Spike is being tried out. Other areas of the training facility is kept strictly secrecy. Lieutenant Jehonatan, who shows us around is very tight lipped regarding what other  operations that are being prepared in this  plain, little room.

– We are rehearsing many different scenarios in all the border areas around Israel, he said.

VG is nevertheless told that the operation targets created in the simulators are highly topical in the tense situation with Iran.

Israeli officials claim that Iran has close ties with the Islamic Jihad organization, which in recent weeks has carried out a series of rocket attacks against southern Israel. According to the Israelis, Iranian military experts also participated in the development of missile systems used by Palestinian groups in Gaza. At the same time, they point out that Hezbollah possesses a large number of missiles that can reach targets in many parts of Israel, if the conflict escalated.

– Training on ground operations in Gaza or Lebanon is therefore highly relevant in the current situation, says a key source in the Israeli military to VG.

target shooting

Today’s event takes place in a small village somewhere in Lebanon. Lieutenant Jehonatan, who demonstrates the simulator, however, is very reluctant to show which areas are targets for training.

Only after having received the go-ahead from one of his superiors he gives his reluctant permission to photograph the event. The big screen shows a landscape with a village and a valley where a herd of sheep graze.  A group of armored vehicles appear suddenly on the graveled road leading up to the shooter’s position. After studying the area and having received their attack orders, student Chen fires at his targets while receiving instruction from Kama Zigelman.

The sophisticated simulator was developed after the Lebanon war in 2006. The goal is to prepare for operations with small, mobile groups of infantry and special forces.

Despite strong warnings from both U.S. President Barack Obama and several European leaders Israeli continues to warn that they are prepared to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, with or without U.S. support.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have stressed that they see the Iranian nuclear weapons as a threat to Israel’s existence, and has made it clear that “all options remain on the table.”