Israeli forces training for rapid incursions against Hizbullah in Lebanon

World Tribune (Link) - Jonathan Spyer  (August 3, 2009)

The Israel Army has intensified training for another war with the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

Officials said the army has formulated a training course that would prepare combat troops to rapidly cross into Lebanon and overcome Hizbullah's network of bunkers and tunnels south of the Litani River. They said the training was meant to significantly shorten any future war with Hizbullah, Middle East Newsline reported.

In 2006, Israel and Hizbullah agreed to a ceasefire after 34 days of combat.

"We were totally unprepared for the last war, and we took weeks learning on the job," an official said. "This time, we intend to confront Hizbullah, knowing exactly its assets and capabilities."

The army has constructed training centers that included mock villages and mountain regions meant to resemble southern Lebanon. One training center consisted of an urban facility as well as an area that replicated the hilly region of the Shebaa Plateau.

"Hizbullah has restored its network of safe houses, tunnels and bunkers," the official said. "This would enable Hizbullah fighters to enter one house and come out of another entrance nearly a kilometer away."

Officials said the military has accelerated training amid an alert along Israel's northern border with Lebanon. They said Hizbullah and the Lebanese Army have been coordinating forces south of Lebanon's Litani River.

One of the new Israeli training centers was planned for the Elyakim base in the Lower Galilee. The military also plans bases at Lachish in southern Israel.

The military has also been developing urban warfare centers in which live fire would be employed. The two centers, monitored by hundreds of surveillance cameras, would contain 18 structures made of rubber that would absorb live fire.