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AP PHOTOS: Israelis train in ghost town dubbed 'Mini Gaza'

Israeli soldiers climb on a wall as they conduct a mock assault during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, in Zeelim army base, so...
Israeli soldiers rest next to a mural depicting the late Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facili...
Israeli soldiers gather during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, in Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially,...
An Israeli soldier dressed as a Palestinian militant, poses for a photo during training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, sout...
Israeli soldiers rest next to a faded posters slain Palestinian fighters, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, in Zeelim arm...
An Israeli soldier pretending to be dead Palestinian militant lies on the ground during a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army...
A view of the IDF Urban Warfare Training Center, designed as a mock Palestinian village, at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Offic...
Israeli soldiers climb on a wall as they conduct a mock assault during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, at the Zeelim army base...
Israeli soldiers aim their weapons toward their colleague dressed as a Palestinian militant, while he exits from a fake tunnel, during training sessio...
Israeli soldiers participate in a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially, the si...
Israeli soldiers have their lunch during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel Jan. 4, 2022....
Israeli soldiers climb on a wall as they assault a complex during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, sout...
Israeli soldiers take positions on top of a mock minaret of a mosque during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, at the Zeelim army...
An Israeli soldier dressed as a Palestinian militant, left, lie on the ground next to his colleague pretending to be dead, during training session sim...
Israeli soldiers carry supplies at the end of an urban warfare exercise session at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel,...
An Israeli soldier take position during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, May 25, 2022....
Israeli soldiers participate in a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially, the si...
Israeli soldiers rest in a damaged car, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4...
Israeli soldiers are seen trough a broken window of a guarding post during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army b...
Israeli soldiers buying cold drinks during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 20...
An Israeli soldier reads from a book next to graffiti featuring the Palestinian flag, during an urban warfare exercise in an army training facility at...
Israeli soldier participate in an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility in the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, May 25, 2022. Official...
Israeli soldiers take positions during a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially,...
Israeli soldier carry ammunition next to a graffiti featuring the Palestinian flag, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at t...
Israeli soldiers take positions during a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially,...
A graffiti shows a figure of a militant at the IDF Urban Warfare Training Center, designed as a mock Palestinian village at the Zeelim army base, sout...
Two M-16 rifles hanging on a wall with a graffiti featuring the Palestinian flag at the IDF Urban Warfare Training Center at the Zeelim army base, sou...

Israeli soldiers climb on a wall as they conduct a mock assault during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, in Zeelim army base, so...

Israeli soldiers rest next to a mural depicting the late Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facili...

Israeli soldiers gather during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, in Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially,...

An Israeli soldier dressed as a Palestinian militant, poses for a photo during training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, sout...

Israeli soldiers rest next to a faded posters slain Palestinian fighters, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, in Zeelim arm...

An Israeli soldier pretending to be dead Palestinian militant lies on the ground during a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army...

A view of the IDF Urban Warfare Training Center, designed as a mock Palestinian village, at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Offic...

Israeli soldiers climb on a wall as they conduct a mock assault during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, at the Zeelim army base...

Israeli soldiers aim their weapons toward their colleague dressed as a Palestinian militant, while he exits from a fake tunnel, during training sessio...

Israeli soldiers participate in a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially, the si...

Israeli soldiers have their lunch during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel Jan. 4, 2022....

Israeli soldiers climb on a wall as they assault a complex during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, sout...

Israeli soldiers take positions on top of a mock minaret of a mosque during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility, at the Zeelim army...

An Israeli soldier dressed as a Palestinian militant, left, lie on the ground next to his colleague pretending to be dead, during training session sim...

Israeli soldiers carry supplies at the end of an urban warfare exercise session at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel,...

An Israeli soldier take position during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, May 25, 2022....

Israeli soldiers participate in a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially, the si...

Israeli soldiers rest in a damaged car, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4...

Israeli soldiers are seen trough a broken window of a guarding post during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army b...

Israeli soldiers buying cold drinks during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 20...

An Israeli soldier reads from a book next to graffiti featuring the Palestinian flag, during an urban warfare exercise in an army training facility at...

Israeli soldier participate in an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility in the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, May 25, 2022. Official...

Israeli soldiers take positions during a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially,...

Israeli soldier carry ammunition next to a graffiti featuring the Palestinian flag, during an urban warfare exercise at an army training facility at t...

Israeli soldiers take positions during a training session simulating urban warfare at the Zeelim army base, southern Israel, Jan. 4, 2022. Officially,...

A graffiti shows a figure of a militant at the IDF Urban Warfare Training Center, designed as a mock Palestinian village at the Zeelim army base, sout...

Two M-16 rifles hanging on a wall with a graffiti featuring the Palestinian flag at the IDF Urban Warfare Training Center at the Zeelim army base, sou...

ZEELIM ARMY BASE, Israel (AP) — The Muslim call to prayer echoes through a remote town in southern Israel that has known only war.

Its 500 buildings, the tallest eight stories high, are deserted. Its narrow alleys are adorned with militant murals and posters honoring slain Palestinian fighters. It cannot be found on any map.

Officially, it's known as the Urban Warfare Training Center. The Israeli soldiers who run military drills here call it “Mini Gaza.”

The military began building the $45 million facility in the Zeelim army base in 2005, toward the end of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israeli rule. Over the previous five years, Israeli troops had battled Palestinian militants in cities and towns across the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Since then, Israel has fought four wars in Gaza against the Islamic militant group Hamas, with some battles erupting in densely populated cities and refugee camps. Over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than half of them civilians, according to the U.N. Israeli officials say 106 people have died on their side, including civilians, soldiers and foreign residents.

In each war, Israel has been accused of using disproportionate force in crowded residential areas, contributing to the civilian death toll. The military says it makes every effort to spare civilians, while accusing Palestinian militants of using them as human shields.

“The nature of war has changed,” said Col. Eli Abeles, the facility’s commander. “Today our principal fighting ... is done around built-up areas and in built-up areas.”

The tight alleyways, drab concrete buildings and open areas in the roughly 60-acre (quarter square kilometer) facility are meant to simulate the urban environments in which Israel’s soldiers often operate. These can include Gaza and the West Bank, as well as southern Lebanon, where Israel has warned potential future fighting with Hezbollah militants would likely take place.

The army’s sole official graffiti artist decorates the streets with murals featuring Arabic slogans and portraits of Palestinian and Lebanese militants.

Between exercises, soldiers rest in the shade of the buildings, smoking cigarettes beneath the faded posters, some of which honor those killed in battle with Israel. Others don red-and-white checkered scarves to role-play militants in an upcoming drill.

The training center can accommodate exercises for an entire brigade of 2,000 soldiers at a single time, Abeles said. Visiting American troops and forces from European allies — most recently Cypriot soldiers — have also trained in Mini Gaza.

But when the guns fall silent and the soldiers withdraw, the training center reverts to a ghost town, the wind howling through empty rooms and creaking metal.