Israeli war game eyes Gaza 'occupation'
Tel Aviv is conducting war games in the Negev desert, in what appears to be preparation for a new offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
An Israeli TV channel reported the military drills on Thursday, saying the rightist government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely gearing up for a massive attack on Gaza shortly after the anniversary of the deadly Gaza onslaught last year.
It further revealed that Tel Aviv plans to occupy the entire coastal enclave this time to compensate for the failure to overthrow Hamas, the democratically elected ruler of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army is said to be practicing to forestall the mistakes which led to the deaths of several of its soldiers during the last offensive, the poor handling of which cost Tel Aviv severe criticism at home and forced senior army officials to resign.
The report added that Israeli tanks have been equipped with a new system able to identify friendly units operating in the battlefield — even when they are among civilians.
The 22-day Israeli offensive last year saw weeks of relentless air, land and sea incursions against the Palestinians in Gaza. It left more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of women and children, dead.
It also devastated a large part of the infrastructure in the impoverished coastal sliver which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
Israel has recently stepped up saber-rattling against the Palestinians in Gaza, with Israeli planes dropping thousands of leaflets across Gaza in December, urging Gazans against cooperating with the resistance fighters based in the region, and threatening a new attack.