The five-day biennial Juniper Cobra joint U.S.- Israel military exercise is set to get underway this week in the Jewish State, with anti-missile defense systems having already been deployed across the country by U.S. and Israeli teams last week in preparation for this week’s drill.
More than 3,000 U.S. soldiers participated in the previous Juniper Cobra exercise in 2016.
This week’s joint exercise will involve a simulation of a massive dual-front missile attack on Israel from both the north and south.
The exercise is being carried out amidst tensions with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist organization, which has threatened to attack if Israel doesn’t abandon its construction of a border wall in the north.
Lebanon’s recent publication of a tender for offshore oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean Sea also includes an area called “Block 9″ – which belongs to Israel – a move Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman bluntly called “very, very challenging and provocative” during his address last week at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference at Tel Aviv University.
Likewise, IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis put Lebanon’s population on notice in an Arabic-language op-ed a few days earlier, “Iran has de facto opened a new branch, the ‘Lebanon branch.’ Iran is here,’ he warned, urging them not to allow Hezbollah and Iran to hijack their country.
Tensions are also beginning to rise in the south, as terrorists continue to fire rockets across the border in what appears to be a periodic attempt to check the reflexes of Israel’s defense forces. There have also been more than a few test launches fired off the Gaza coastline into the Mediterranean Sea as well, clearly intended to calibrate aim and trajectory of new projectiles being produced in the enclave by various terrorist factions.
Iran has been supplying funds, weaponry, technology and training to both Hamas and Hezbollah for years; recently the relationship with the factions in both the north and south has tightened dramatically. Representatives of both terror groups, and from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization attended the recent inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani’s second term in office.
Meanwhile, for the first time ever, the United States and Israel last year signed an agreement in which U.S. military staff will assist Israel with missile defense in war.
The first American military base on Israeli soil, run by EUCOM, was completed in the south this past September. The so-called “base within a base” is comprised of barracks and offices and provides support services to Israel’s Aerial Defense Division.
The base operates under the auspices of Europe supreme allied commander, EUCOM chief General Curtis Scaparrotti.