Inside the Israel Defense Force's Urban Warfare Training Center in the Negev, July 12, 2023. Photo by Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS.
Inside the Israel Defense Force's Urban Warfare Training Center in the Negev, July 12, 2023. Photo by Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS.
featureIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Photo Essay: ‘Mini Gaza,’ the IDF’s Urban Warfare Training Center

Thousands of soldiers have drilled combat scenarios here to prepare for operating in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Urban Warfare Training Center in the western Negev is also known as “Mini Gaza.”

The facility inside the army’s Tze’elim training base has more than 600 structures, ranging from eight-story buildings to shacks, schools, marketplaces and more. The 60-acre site is so realistic that many scenes from the critically acclaimed Israeli TV show Fauda were filmed here.

Since 2011, thousands of soldiers have gone through simulations of urban combat scenarios to better prepare for operating in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Lebanon.

Training includes distinguishing between terrorists and civilians, minimizing harm to noncombatants and situations where terrorists use civilians as human shields.

Delegations of foreign soldiers, including from the United States have visited “Mini Gaza” for urban warfare training.

In May, the IDF carried out “Operation Shield and Arrow” against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza to curb incessant rocket fire.

During the conflict, PIJ fired more than 1,250 projectiles at Israel, to which the IDF responded by striking nearly 400 terror assets in Gaza.

“The execution was perfect. With a continuous initiative, we thwarted the entire top of the organization and damaged combat equipment that endangered Israel’s security,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after a ceasefire ended five days of fighting.

Photos by Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS.

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