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Various city governments, national agencies and the IDF’s home front command are feverishly preparing for the effects that a war with Iran and its proxies in Southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip would have on Israel’s civilian population. Speaking with officials, either local or national, one gets a sense that everything that can be done is being done and that Israelis have little to worry about in the event of missile bombardment.

Several months ago, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Moshe Tiomkin, a Tel Aviv municipal official in charge of defense and emergency management, as well as transportation, said his city had set up emergency command centers and contracted with building and construction companies to use their heavy digging and earth-moving equipment for rescue efforts should the city face a disaster.

“After the Gulf War in 1991, private shelters – the mamad system – were implemented, comprising private shelters built into every newly constructed apartment.

In buildings built before the Gulf War, there is a shelter on every floor, and there is also one under each building.

Lastly, there are more than 350 public shelters, and we even have one shelter, a big shelter, that can hold 2,000 people,” he said.

Among the public shelters recently constructed in the city are two mega-shelters that have received quite a lot of press over the past year. The first, built on more than four stories underneath the Habimah Theater, can shelter up to 1,600 people. This official shelter will supplement an adjacent 35,000 sq.m. garage which, while not fortified, will provide some protection for those unable to get into the newly constructed complex.

The second newly constructed shelter was built at the Sourasky Medical Center and can hold between 700 and 1,000 hospital beds, also spread throughout four underground levels. This facility currently serves as a short-term parking garage but is said to be almost instantly convertible for wartime usage.

While Tiomkin seems quite confident in the administration’s ability to protect its constituents, signs indicating the location of public shelters are not apparent to visitors to Tel Aviv. The thousands of commuters who stream into the city every day, not to mention the record-breaking number of tourists who have visited Israel over the past year, would most likely face the prospect of a last-second frantic search for shelter should the emergency sirens begin to wail.

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