home front drill 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
In preparation for a non-conventional attack on Israel, the National Emergency Authority will hold the largest-ever exercise to train security forces how to respond to a city-wide biological attack.
The drill will begin on January 1 and is being prepared by the NEA, a branch of the Defense Ministry established after the Second Lebanon War to coordinate between all of the civilian and military bodies that provide services during a nationwide emergency.
Until now, previous exercises have focused on the Health Ministry's ability to continue to run hospitals during a non-conventional biological attack.
The threat scenario will include a biological attack on a major Israeli city and will include the IDF Home Front Command, Magen David Adom, the Israel Police, the IDF Medical Corps, the IDF Spokesman's Office and the Fire and Rescue Service.
Syria, according to foreign reports, is believed to have developed offensive biological capabilities. A military facility near the city of Cerin is reportedly suspected of being used for the development and production of biological agents.
Syria also has a significant arsenal of long-range Scud-C and Scud-D missiles that would be capable of carrying the agents.
Diseases known to have been weaponized include Ebola, anthrax, Q fever and smallpox. The exercise will focus on some of these diseases. One possibility that will be considered during the drill will be to close down and quarantine the entire city in the event that the disease spreads.
Officials will hold hourly assessments during the drill and discuss the option of immunizing the entire country.
If such a decision is made, it will be carried out by the IDF, which has the manpower and infrastructure to open immunization centers.
In June, the IDF and NEA held the largest civil-defense exercise since the Second Lebanon War called "Turning Point" and which for the first time included the sounding of a siren throughout the country.
The IDF plans to begin returning gas masks to the public starting in November.
Since the Defense Ministry began collecting the public's gas masks in 2006, almost 90 percent of the masks have been collected and most of them refurbished.