The timing and locations chosen for the drill – which focused on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – were somewhat "problematic," police sources said, but stressed that the exercise's implications were more significant than the inconvenience it caused.
Huge traffic jams in Tel Aviv (Photo: Joe Haviv)
"The drill enabled the most secret police units to be trained, along with all emergency and rescue services in the State of Israel – including the Shin Bet, Fire Department, Magen David Adom ambulance service, and the Prison Service," a senior police official said.
"Everyone talks about the traffic jams, while in practice the police practiced hostage-taking scenarios at central sites of great importance to the state as a whole," he said.
'Hostage-taking' in Tel AvivThe exercise spread across numerous sites where "terror attacks" or "terrorist hostage takeovers" were simulated. Many locations also featured "casualties," while in Jerusalem the drill included the sounds of shots and explosions. Elsewhere, authorities simulated major car accidents, involving overturned trucks among other things.
The two main elements of the drill simulated a terrorist takeover of an Israel Electric Company building in Tel Aviv and of the Rabin Center in the city. The two locations featured "terrorists" raiding the sites and taking "hostages." Initially, regular police forces were sent to the scene to "contain the situation," followed by various special units, including negotiators.
Police deploy nationwide (Photo: Ido Erez)
The drill was still going on Thursday night, with hostages still being "held" at the various sites. The exercise was expected to end by Friday morning.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch lauded the drill and said it was unprecedented in scope.
"The Israel Police and other security forces must constantly prepare for any scenario," he said. "Practicing the cooperation of all forces, as happened in the current drill, is critical in order to achieve maximal readiness during a real emergency."