Netanyahu. 'Israel seeks peace'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the home front drill which begins Sunday is "a routine exercise which was scheduled a long time ago, and is not the result of an unusual security-related development."
The Hezbollah organization declared a heightened state of alert over the weekend and mobilized thousands of fighters to southern Lebanon ahead of the Israeli drill.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister said that the exercise, which is being held for the fourth year in a row, will "include air raid sirens across the country, at workplaces, in schools, in hospitals, in the local authorities and in government offices."
Largest ever home front exercise begins Sunday to evaluate preparedness for various scenarios, including rocket attacks, planting of dirty bomb and hazardous material incident. 'Our enemies consider home front to be Israel's soft spot,' IDF source says
According to Netanyahu, "Israel seeks calm, stability and peace, but it's no secret that we live in a region threatened by rockets and missiles."
The prime minister added that "the best defense is developing a deterrence and defense system, and we are investing large budgets for this purpose."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the drill as well, saying that it was aimed at "drawing lessons." We have no plans to launch a war and we seek calm and peace, he said, but "a state like Israel must be prepared – and we are prepared."
Netanyahu also addressed a Wall Street Journal report that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is considering increasing his offer for a land swap with Israel – a report which has already been denied by the Palestinian Authority. "There is no such offer and we are not discussing it," the prime minister said.