Israel completes war-simulating drill in Gaza

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JERUSALEM, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Israel's army said on Wednesday it has completed a large-scale exercise to simulate a full-fledged war against Hamas.

The four-day-long drill simulated a scenario of war with Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian movement that runs the Gaza Strip, and another scenario that simulated war on two fronts at the same time.

"The exercise marked the completion of the plan to increase the Israel Defense Force's operational preparedness for possible conflict," the military said in a statement.

"The exercise was planned as part of the 2019 training program and is intended to maintain the readiness of the forces," the statement read.

A military spokesperson said that the drill was ordered by Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kochavi "in light of our situation assessment" of a possible war with Gaza.

Kochavi directed that the military should increase its preparedness for conflict in the Palestinian enclave and "put preparedness at the top of the General Staff's priorities."

The spokesperson said that this process focused on expanding the database of sites that the military can use as targets for strikes, strengthening the intelligence, real-time communication between field units and the Military Intelligence Directorate, organizing the area around Gaza, training the troops, and a large logistical effort.

Israel's last round of large-scale military campaign in the Gaza Strip took place in the summer of 2014. The 51-day war claimed the lives of 2,251 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, and 71 people in Israel, mostly soldiers.

Tensions have been on the rise over the past year, amidst weekly demonstrations near the fence between Gaza and Israel, known as "the Great March of Return," which protest the crippling 12-year blockade Israel has imposed. Enditem

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