The civil war raging in Syria and ominous Israeli promises to prevent advanced weapons from landing in the hands of terrorist organizations are only part of the background for the annual national emergency exercise set to be held next week.
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The drill, held jointly by the IDF Home Front Command and emergency services, aims to prepare the Israeli population for the undesired event of thousands of missiles and rockets hitting population centers and strategic installations across the country, including unconventional weapons from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The simulation will commence Sunday morning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing a week of national emergency.
Erdan (second from left) beside IDF chief Gantz (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
From Monday until Wednesday the drill will focus on civilian population, in particular practicing speedy retreat to protected spaces. This will be a high-tech drill, as participation will be checked online with the assistance of the Education Ministry, which devised a form asking students whether they and their parents indeed entered sheltered areas.
Additionally, this will be first time the entire early warning system will be put to a test as, besides sirens, civilians will receive alerts via different media including mobile devices, social networks and television broadcasts.
Erdan also said that "in terms of gaps in protection, we prefer to invest in protecting our citizens from conventional threats before investing in shielding the population from nonconventional weaponry. The Iron Dome (missile defense system) will not be ready to cope – as we have seen in the Pillar of Defense operation – with the scope and size of such missiles."
Head of the Home Front Command Major-General Eyal Eisenberg also spoke of war as a near certainty, saying "We'll be required to deal with a large volume of rocket fire. Our opponents hold long-range missiles with large warheads and carrying capacity of hundreds of pounds.
"There is no doubt Israel's home front has never dealt with such a scenario, and we will have to show extraordinary fortitude. These are not easy times, but Israel possesses a far greater destructive capacity compared to our enemies, so I would suggest our neighbors weigh the odds once more before they warm up the engines," said the commander.
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