The IDF Home Front Command plans to finalize the establishment of two new search-and-rescue battalions by the end of next year to be able to provide a rapid response capability in the event of a future war.

Brig.-Gen. Zviki Tessler, deputy commander of the Home Front Command, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the establishment of the new battalions would dramatically improve the IDF’s ability to assist the civilian population.

He also revealed that the soldiers in the search-and-rescue battalions would soon undergo training to become certified firefighters.

“This will allow us to give a balanced and effective response to the challenges ahead,” Tessler said.

The Home Front Command currently has two search-and-rescue battalions.

The interview with Tessler took place at the Tel Hashomer Induction Center near Tel Aviv where the Home Front Command was receiving a new batch of recruits as part of the IDF’s annual “March Draft.” Officers said that this year’s draft into the Home Front Command was the largest ever and was marked by an unprecedented increase in motivation to serve in its units with more than one soldier competing for each available spot.

The draft was held just days after a shaky cease-fire went into effect in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Islamic Jihad. During last week’s violence, over 300 rockets were fired into Israel.

“We believe that the home front is prepared but we cannot rest and there is always room to improve,” Tessler said. “Once we have these new battalions, our capabilities will be better.”

The new battalions will not be divided throughout the country’s various regions but will be mobile, with the ability to deploy as needed and based on operational requirements.

In another step aimed at improving its response to missile attacks, Tessler said that the Home Front Command was looking to procure unmanned aerial vehicles to use for damage assessment following missile attacks against Israel.

Tests were recently conducted on two UAVs – Elbit Systems’ Skylark I LE and BlueBird Aero System’s MicroB. Both are lightweight man-launched UAVs that provide “under the clouds” surveillance.

“This would give us as an independent capability without needing to rely on anyone to provide us with UAVs when they will be needed,” Tessler said.

The Home Front Command currently tracks missile attacks with the use of radars operated by the Israel Air Force. The two branches recently established a joint command center where they track missile launches into Israel and activate air sirens for population centers projected to be the targets of incoming rockets.

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