Israel keeping watch on northern border

YNet News (Link) - Hanan Greenberg (September 3, 2009)

Israel is keeping close watch on Hezbollah's activities in Lebanon. A wide-scale exercise of the IDF's field intelligence unit, Shahaf, was completed Wednesday in the Northern Command.

"Below the surface, there is extensive activity whose goal, quite clearly, is to prepare for the day of visitation," said Shahaf Commander Lt. Col. Motti of military actions in Lebanon. "We are likely to take a hit, but even if we don't manage to thwart every event, we will be able to inflict a price. This is why we are strenuously preparing a 'target bank'. When the need arises, we'll know how to take action against them."

Four days of walking with a heavy load on their backs, settling into undetectable positions, locating a quality target deep in Lebanese territory, closing in, firing and destroying. This is what the Shahaf exercise consisted of. From this week on, the field reconnaissance corps becomes a intelligence collection corps. This is the first exercise in which the full capabilities of the soldiers, who mostly remain anonymous, are coming to fruition.

"From their first day in the field until their release, these soldiers are in the same territorial area and are well-acquainted with Hezbollah, its activities, the differences between villages, and know how to notice any unusual incident," explained the regiment commander. The soldiers regularly build a profile of the enemy. During war, they carry out operations deep in enemy territory.

According to him, "We must exercise a lot of creativity in our actions, to reach a surprising angle with surprising timing, and to use means to destroy targets."

The exercise simulated intense warfare. The soldiers were loaded onto helicopters on their way to "the battle zone," and carried out complex movements and challenges. During the exercise, soldiers acted out the role of civilian Hezbollah fighters who fire "rockets" into Israeli territory.

The extensive exercise is part of a broad series of IDF exercises, including ground and naval forces. The quiet on the northern front could be broken at any moment, according to IDF estimates, be it by an incident on the border or a terrorist attack somewhere else in the world.