Israel ends drill for full-scale war on Gaza: Paper
Israeli air and ground forces have finished a week-long exercise to prepare for a full-scale war on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The maneuvers, which were carried out “in preparation for war in the North and South,” ended on Thursday, enlisting hundreds of warplanes and gunships, the Jerusalem Post said.
The drills, the daily wrote, included actual airstrikes of large numbers of targets across the coastal territory.
“My squadron today returned from a mission in Gaza. We have successfully met all these challenges and we are ready for any threat,” it quoted the commander of the 105th Squadron as saying.
“We met all the objectives we set for ourselves, in full coordination with the Southern Command and with the air force’s coordination and control organizations,” he added.
Israeli aircraft, meanwhile, dropped leaflets in Gaza, which warned Palestinians of an imminent war, saying they had to refuse to protest near the fence separating the enclave from the occupied territories.
The Israeli regime, which has been enforcing an all-out blockade against Gaza since 2007, ordered the drills, citing the likelihood of “violent” protests along the fence on the occasion of Naksa (Setback) Day when Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza as well as East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six Day War.
Israel occupied the Palestinian territory of the West Bank on the day in 1967 and has been trying to annex it ever since. Neither the occupation, nor the annexation attempt has ever been recognized by the international community.
Tel Aviv says tens of thousands of Palestinians are to converge on the fence to mark the day.
The Israeli military has killed more than 120 Palestinians in attacks on border protests since March 31, when Gazans began staging weekly “March of Return” protests in support of their right to go back to their homeland. No Israeli trooper has died in the process.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is touring Europe, said, “Hamas’s goal was to have as many casualties, our goal was to minimize casualties and avoid fatalities.”