Israel "should not take the commotion surrounding it or the reactions from Lebanon too seriously," IDF Home Front Command chief Major-General Yair Golan said Monday, the second day of the country's largest ever home front exercise.
The drill is simulating the firing of hundreds of missiles from different fronts and a gradual increase in civilian casualties.
Echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments, according to which the drill was scheduled in advance and is not linked to recent tensions along the northern border, Golan told reporters in Holon, "There is nothing calmer than holding an exercise; this is how a mature and serious nation conducts itself as it looks the threats it is facing in the eye without blinking."
The Home Front Command chief said the exercise, code-named Turning Point 4, is significantly different from previous drills conducted by the security establishment. The exercise will culminate on Wednesday at 11 am, when sirens will sound across the country, at which time all residents are to go to bomb shelters or other protected spaces. Drills will be held in schools, as well.
During the drill, the Home Front Command is operating in accordance with wartime procedures, with Major General Golan giving three daily assessment briefings.
According to defense officials, the emphasis of this year's exercise is on the response of local authorities to a military emergency. Drills will be held in 68 cities and towns that are home to about 70% of Israel's population.
"These types of exercises will not only reduce the number of Israeli casualties in the next conflict, they may determine the conflict's outcome," a senior defense official told Ynet.
'Gaps are known'
Major General Golan said the security establishment has yet to decide on where to deploy the "Iron Dome" missile defense system.
"We were pleasantly surprised by the system's performance," he said, "A decision will be reached in the coming months."
Addressing the Israeli populations' ability to withstand an attack with unconventional weapons, he said, "According to the current budget, we can tend to the needs of 60 to 70% of the public. These are the gaps and they are known to military top brass."
In a calming message to the public, Golan told the press conference, "We have extraordinary capabilities which I am not sure you are aware of. Our abilities compared to that of other countries are among the best. Our situation is good and correlates with the threat level. There will not be a discrepancy in the amount of soldiers and police officers."
Major General Golan estimated that the next war will see many Israelis leaving the war zones for calmer regions. "This happened during the War of Independence as well, and this phenomenon will apparently accompany us during the next conflict. We will tell the municipalities to prepare for this scenario," he said.
Israel's police department is also taking part in the exercise. "We are simulating a war against Syria, Lebanon and even Gaza," Police Commander Nissim Mor told Ynet. "In such a reality, the home front will suffer a wave of casualties, missile attacks and unconventional terror."
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said the department will be required to apply all of its force and resources to deal with an attack on the home front. "Bomb squads will have a major role (in the event of war), and traffic police will be tasked with opening sterile traffic lanes for the security forces and emergency units," he said.