Jakarta, The Gulf Observer: Indonesia Defense Forces (TNI) personnel in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have joined a series of drills to anticipate the worst-case scenarios regarding the escalation of war in Palestine’s besieged Gaza Strip.
Maritime task force commander with the Indonesian Battalion of Garuda XXVIII-N Contingent, Lt.Col.John David Nalasakti Sondakh, made the remarks in a press statement released by the Indonesian navy and received here on Friday.
Since the start of the Palestine-Israel war on October 7, 2023, tensions have escalated up to the Blue Line, the border between Lebanon and Israel, he said.
The UNIFIL’s military exercise took place on November 1–3, and was witnessed by Indonesian Ambassador to Lebanon, Y.Thohari, Sondakh added.
The drills were aimed at improving the Indobatt (Indonesian battalion) personnel’s readiness for any eventuality that might occur during an escalation of tensions, and for anticipating the UNIFIL Chief of Mission’s decision to increase the readiness status from “red alert” to “black alert,” he informed.
During the three-day exercise, the UNIFIL troops from Indonesia received training materials, including those related to base defense, air defense, response to underwater sabotage, as well as Indonesian citizen and force protection, he said.
“If the current situation got worse, and an order to withdraw our troops was issued, an evacuation mission could be carried out through the sea to Cyprus,” he added.
Evacuation through the sea could be an option when Lebanon’s Rafic Hariri International Airport is not operational and the land route is not feasible, he explained.
Besides Cyprus, another secure destination for evacuees is Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, a country that is home to 222 Indonesian citizens and 1,229 peacekeepers from the Indobatt.
Palestine and Israel’s new armed conflict erupted again following a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel early on the morning of October 7.
Prior to the assaults by Palestinian liberation fighters, Israel had continued its closure of Gaza crossings.
Palestine’s news agency WAFA reported on September 25 that the Israeli closure of Gaza crossings had worsened the living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza.
According to WAFA, the Palestinians had already suffered from the severe impacts of “more than 17 years of tight Israeli land, sea, and air blockades.”
Al Jazeera quoted Hamas, which governs Gaza, as stating that its assault on Israel was “a response to the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.”
In response to the unprecedented surprise attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas and, according to Al Jazeera, pledged that the Israeli forces would “turn all Hamas hideouts into rubble.”
In the Palestinian war on Israel, Hezbollah is assisting Hamas by launching attacks on the Israeli force’s position near the Lebanon-Israel border.