JERUSALEM, Israel -- Some 2,000 IDF reservists joined a full division of active-duty soldiers for a major training exercise in the North, geared toward preparing troops for a potential escalation with Lebanon or Syria, or both.
The Israel Defense Forces holds these types of drills periodically to ensure that both reservists and active-duty soldiers are battle ready should the need arise. But one analyst said it should be seen nevertheless as a warning.
"The drill's timing -- during a period of heightened tensions with Hezbollah and uncertainty surrounding Syria's brutal civil war and chemical weapons sites -- is a signal to Israel's enemies in southern Lebanon, Syria and Iran that it is ready to face down any provocation or attack," wrote military affairs correspondent Yaakov Lapin in the Jerusalem Post.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, spiritual leader of the Lebanese-based terror group Hezbollah, again denied launching the drone shot down off the coast of Haifa by Israeli pilots last week, peppering his remarks with veiled threats against the Jewish state.
"I warn the Israeli enemy and those standing behind it not to make a foolish mistake in Lebanon because despite all that has been said, the resistance is alert and is willing and able to protect Lebanon," Nasrallah said.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is closely monitoring both Lebanon and Syria.
"Syria is breaking down and Lebanon is unstable," Netanyahu noted, saying Syria represents "two direct threats."
"First, the possibility that advanced weapons wind up with terrorist organizations. The second is penetration by individual terrorists through the border to carry out shooting attacks at Israelis," he continued.
"We are handling both issues," Netanyahu said. "The State of Israel will curb any threat emanating from Syria and Lebanon, whether by land, sea or air."