'Israel' joins 6 countries in Cyprus to drill evac from conflict zones
Cyprus claims “Argonaut 2022" is one of the most important civilian evacuation drills in the world.
The US, Italy, France, "Israel", Greece, and others have taken part in a group of drills in and around Cyprus created to ease evacuations from conflict zones and to carry out offshore rescue operations, in an action seen as urgent following the war in Ukraine.
Egypt, and for the first time, took part with its own military forces in the Friday leg of the annual drill, while Saudi Arabia sent observers in a delegation to “Argonaut 2022", which Cyprus has called one of the most important civilian evacuation drills in the world.
Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides informed foreign officials that participating countries were involved in planning the mass evacuation of civilians escaping a crisis in a neighboring country.
“Cyprus is located in an area of perpetual turmoil and instability and there is always the possibility of a conflict or a crisis,” he said, adding that consequently, “we have to remain vigilant, able and ready to facilitate our friends and allies for dealing with crisis situations and provide safe haven for those affected.”
15 other countries sent delegations to observe coordination efforts by Cypriot officials and foreign embassies to ease the potential arrival of foreign nationals at Cyprus’ main port of Limassol.
The exercise ended in a search and rescue operation with aircraft and vessels simulating what Cypriot officials called a “serious maritime accident” off the southern coast of the East Mediterranean island nation.
The exercise, first held 15 years ago, took place this year after a two-year hiatus because of Covid-19 restrictions.
IOF launch largest military exercise in history of occupation
Earlier this month, the Israeli occupation announced launching the largest military drills in its history in occupied Palestine, codenamed "Chariots of Fire", as the region undergoes high tensions.
The military correspondent for the Israeli Channel 13, Or Heller, said that "the Israeli army recommended, during a discussion session in the security and military establishment, not to launch a military operation in Gaza, but to increase arrests in the Palestinian areas (West Bank), change the 'rules of engagement' [opening fire], and consider the border fence between Israel and the Palestinian territories as a borderline in every sense of the word."
Heller noted that the Israeli occupation forces "began today the largest maneuver in their history, Chariots of Fire, which simulates a multifront war," adding that "last year this maneuver was postponed due to Operation Guardian of the Walls [battle of Seif Al-Quds], and this year they hope to complete it as planned without being disrupted by a war."
US military to participate in Israeli simulated attack on Iran
According to Israeli media, the Israeli Air Force will conduct a simulation of a widescale strike on Iran in May, during the "Chariots of Fire" drills.
The aviation drills, which will include a simulated strike on Iranian nuclear sites, will take place over the Mediterranean Sea during the month-long exercise, which begins on May 29. The "Chariots of Fire" exercise, which involves virtually all IOF units, has been focused on preparing to strike along "Israel's" northern borders, especially against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Last year, IOF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said he had directed the military to begin developing new strike plans against Iran. Kohavi stated in September that the army's preparations for a strike against Tehran's nuclear program had "greatly accelerated".
On another note, Michael Kurilla, head of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), arrived in "Israel" on Tuesday for his first official visit, and Gantz is scheduled to meet with Lloyd Austin on Thursday in Washington.
Gantz has previously warned that "Israel’s" list of targets for Lebanon is “bigger and more significant than the one for Gaza.”
According to the IOF, troops have been training to respond to unforeseen occurrences in several theaters at the same time throughout the exercise, which is slated to extend until June 3.