Israel calls up army reservists for drill in the north

JERUSALEM Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:48am EDT

Israeli soldiers from the Nahal infantry brigade take part in a drill in the Golan Heights, near Israel's border with Syria March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israeli soldiers from the Nahal infantry brigade take part in a drill in the Golan Heights, near Israel's border with Syria March 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's military said on Tuesday it had called up hundreds of reservists for a drill in northern Israel where tensions are high with neighbors Syria and Lebanon, but a military spokesman said there was no change in the overall security situation.

Israel has been on high alert for spillover from Syria's civil war, which has included sporadic fire and Israeli frontier positions. It has also warned it would act to prevent Syria's sophisticated weapons from falling into the hands of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The drill - planned in advance as part of the annual training schedule - is meant to simulate a scenario of "quick escalation" in which troops would be sent to the north, the military said in statement. No specific details were included.

"The reality requires us to prepare accordingly and maintain high readiness," a senior officer from Israel's Northern Command said of the drill.

Chief military spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai told Israel Radio: "This is an exercise, it is not connected to any change in the security situation."

Israel has enjoyed a decades-long, stable stand-off with Syria under President Bashar al-Assad, but fighting in the insurgency has drawn close to the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war.

Israel says its air force shot down a drone from Lebanon over the Mediterranean sea last week as it was approaching the Israeli coast. Hezbollah, which sent a drone deep into Israel in October, said it was not behind last week's incident.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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