Dozens of Home Front Command soldiers swarmed around the wreckage in Holon on Tuesday, as bulldozers shifted debris and the sounds of shovels, drills and orders filled the air.

It was only a drill, but the scenario being simulated – a direct missile strike on a civilian neighborhood in central Israel – seemed more pertinent than ever, weeks after the recent conflict with Hamas and the repeated rocket fire on greater Tel Aviv.

The drill marked the final stage of a course to qualify soon-to-be commanders of battalions and companies, the future of the IDF Home Front Command’s Central District.

As the threat to the home front from enemy rockets and missiles grows, the Home Front Command grows with it, and a new battalion is being formed alongside the three existing ones, made up of soldiers preforming their mandatory military service.

“We’re in the midst of the final stage of our course,” said Maj. Sharon Maoz, a battalion commander. “Tomorrow, we will drill an unconventional missile attack.”

Maoz, who served in the IDF Armored Corps for many years before joining the Home Front Command, said that “the adrenaline from search and rescue missions is no less than that which comes from storming terrorists in southern Lebanon. We’re managing the missions as a battle in every way. The future trend will see a growth in the Home Front Command.”

He added, “I feel like the real work is going to be here. Many of us transferred from other combat units, and we have no inferiority complex at the Home Front Command.”

A mobile command and control center had been erected near the wreckage, and a board displayed numbers of dead and wounded, and the number of projected missing people in the rubble, which, in the drill, represented the remains of a medical clinic, a community center and a museum.

Col. Ramtin Sedty, commander of the training course, explained that the Home Front Command had three ways to approach a disaster zone.

“If we do not see or hear anyone trapped, we begin peeling away the first layer of the rubble. If a three-story building collapsed, we’ll peel away one story at a time, until we get to the bottom to search for trapped victims,” he said. “If we make eye contact or hear a trapped person, we will tunnel an escape route directly to them, rather than peeling,” Sedty said, gesturing to one square-shaped tunnel that had already been dug into the wreckage.

“Lastly, if we have no information on trapped people and don’t think anyone is trapped, we will bring in large tools [such as a bulldozer] and move the wreckage, while searching for bodies,” he said.

The exercise was attended by Magen David Adom paramedics and firefighters, to ensure maximum cooperation between the emergency services and the Home Front Command.

Once a person is rescued from the rubble, officials will ask him whether he knows of other trapped people, and then study a map of the building to try to locate them.

By the end of the week, 72 new commanders will be qualified to respond to missile and rocket attacks on the central region.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger