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Netanyahu says IDF preparing if Arab Israelis join enemy in wartime

“There are 10 military battalions training for this thing. Although it is still not enough, they are preparing exactly for this day,” said the Israeli premier.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva (right) visit an IDF Intelligence base, May 23, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva (right) visit an IDF Intelligence base, May 23, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.

The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for a scenario in which Israel’s Arabs join its enemies in wartime, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“There are 10 military battalions training for this thing. Although it is still not enough, they are preparing exactly for this day,” said Netanyahu.

The prime minister made the remarks in response to questions from lawmakers during a recent closed-door session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Kan Bet, Israel’s Public Broadcaster, reported on Monday.

Lawmakers asked Netanyahu if Israel was ready for a multifront war, and whether that included preparations for a possible internal threat from certain segments of the Arab Israeli population.

Israel became aware of the possible danger during “Operation Guardian of the Walls” in May 2021. While Israel was engaged in a military operation against terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Arabs within Israel rioted, blocking roads, including those leading to army bases. Twenty-three police stations were also damaged, and about 300 policemen were injured.

In response, the IDF incorporated scenarios in which rioting hampered the movement of Israeli forces during wartime in its “Chariots of Fire” exercise in May-June 2022.

A military convoy carrying APCs near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, July 19, 2014. Photo by Gili Yaari /Flash90.

Also, last August, the IDF assigned four battalions from one brigade to the task of keeping major roads clear and protecting strategic facilities during wartime.

IDF Col. Gur Rosenblatt, the brigade commander, said: “For us, blocking axes is a serious thing. In a war, you have to move forces quickly—and everything is based on our freedom of movement.”

Also, one of the responsibilities of Israel’s new national guard force under the auspices of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir will be dealing with intercommunal violence during times of national emergency.

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