CAIRO: The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have just completed one of the largest infantry exercises of recent years in the Golan Heights region, training for conflict with Syria and Hezbollah, reported on the Israeli daily, Haaretz on Thursday.
IDF has denied rumors that the military training signals Israel s readiness for an attack on Syria, the daily also reported, noting that Syria has however not accepted the statement on the grounds that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has explicitly said that he is not prepared to hold talks with Damascus.
Beniny Shaloni from the Political Department of the Press Office of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo told The Daily Star Egypt in a telephone interview that the military training in the Golan Heights was not to signal anything to Syria but that its aim is simply to improve the military capabilities of the Israeli army ahead of any possible attack, just like any other army.
But the recently launched Iranian English-language satellite channel, Press TV, also reported on its website that, According to an army commander, the Golani brigade has improved its capabilities during the 70-day drill operations and is now ready for war, citing the second largest Israeli newspaper, Maariv.
Nabil Abdel-Fatah, a political analyst at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies commented on the news reports, saying that the war games staged by the Israeli army are a message from the Israeli government to Hamas, and to the actors behind it, Iran and Syria, and a signal of support to Abu Mazen and his Fatah government in the West Bank. But he excluded the possibility of a pending military conflict. Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted Olmert as saying that Israel is not in favor of war but warned that a miscalculation could ignite renewed hostilities between the two countries.
AFP also mentioned that the Israeli military exercise last February included a simulated attack on a Syrian village and a simulated surprise attack by Syrian commandos on the occupied Golan Heights.