IDF announces mass training excercise to counter Hezbollah

The IDF's excercise along Israel's northern border comes at a time when tensions with Iran are at their highest in years.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Qassem Soleimani (left), head of the IRGC Quds Force
Qassem Soleimani (left), head of the IRGC Quds Force

The IDF announced that Operation 'Ray of Sunshine", a training exercise along the Lebanese border, will begin on Monday afternoon and end the following day.

The army noted that the exercise was planned in advance as part of its training program for 2021 and will include significant movement of security forces throughout the region.

"The exercise is designed to test the capabilities and readiness of our northern border while examining how to apply lessons learned from recent events, with an emphasis on Operation Guardian of the Walls," the IDF said in a statement.

On Friday, the Japanese-owned and Israel-managed MV Mercer Street was struck by a drone aircraft, which apparently was flown intentionally into the vessel, setting off a deadly explosion.

Two crew members, one British, one Romanian, were killed in the attack.

Following the attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Iran of the provocation, rejecting claims the Islamic Republic was not responsible for the incident.

In a statement issued Sunday evening, Blinken said the US was “confident” Tehran was behind the attack.

Blinken vowed an “appropriate response”, to be made in conjunction with America’s allies.

“We join our partners and allies in our strong condemnation of the attack against the Mercer Street, a commercial ship that was peacefully transiting through the north Arabian Sea in international waters,” said Blinken in the statement.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region.”

“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior. These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved," he noted.

Blinken’s comments came just hours after British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also condemned the attack, with the British government backing Israel’s assertion that Tehran was responsible.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Iranian terrorism a “global threat”.

“In the past few days, I‘ve spoken with Secretary of State Blinken, Foreign Secretary Raab and colleagues around the world about this issue. The murderous regime in Iran and the terrorism it exports are a global threat,” Lapid said Sunday night.

“I am pleased that both the United States and the United Kingdom have condemned these terrorist acts. The threat posed by the terrorist regime in Iran will only increase when the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ Raisi becomes president.”

“Israel will continue to hold conversations with our allies around the world and work together to formulate the necessary steps to combat ongoing Iranian terror.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a veiled threat to Iran, hinting at a possible Israeli response.

“We know how to convey the message to Iran in our own way," warned Bennett.