The IDF’s first massive artillery training exercise in 15 years in the South Hebron Hills strengthens Israel’s hold on the area, and is an important step in the battle for Area C, according to settler leader Yochai Damri.
He spoke after the IDF’s 215th artillery brigade held a drill in firing zones 917 and 918 over a four-day period that ended on Wednesday.
Damri, who heads the South Hebron Hills Regional Council, had long battled for such a drill, which he argued was necessary to revive the significance of the firing zones, particularly in light of the illegal Palestinian constitution that occurs there.
The South Hebron Regional Council charged that in addition Palestinians had built a series of illegal roads in the area, on state land and in nature reserves, with financial aid from European countries.
It also alleged that the area is also used as a criminal smuggling route into the center of the country, including for illegal arms.
The drill included artillery fire and the use of armored personnel carriers, the council said.
Damri called on the IDF to continue to hold such drills.
“We are working on all levels to prevent the abandonment of Area C and state lands there to illegal [Palestinian] construction.”
He congratulated the IDF for holding a training exercise in the firing zone, adding that he had demanded that such training exercises take place in “dozens of meetings with decision makers.”
The left-wing NGO B’Tselem, noted that as the IDF passed by the village of Jenbah, it damaged the entrance of a cave, trampled some fields and broke a power line that serviced a mosque and a clinic.The IDF said a routine pre-planned military exercise had taken place in the South Hebron Hills to ensure maintenance of the forces competence.
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