Prime Minister Netanyahu and Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter emphasized the importance of a strong home front defense following the IDF Home Front Command national earthquake drill on Sunday.

Netanyahu commented: "Ministers are, first of all, Israeli citizens and like everyone, we are taking part in the drill. No other government has invested as much in home front defense and we still have many plans and much work yet before us. I want Israeli citizens to be protected."

Underlying the main goal of the drill, Netanyahu continued: "In the event of a missile attack we want people to run inside their homes and in an earthquake we want people to run outside their homes."

Dichter added: "We must continue to foster a 'culture of preparedness' so that when the earth shakes, we as a country do not tremble."

"An earthquake is a natural disaster that can not be prevented, so our goal is to prevent the disaster becoming a catastrophe. We must be prepared for every scenario," Dichter warned.

The IDF Home Front Command kicked off its first national earthquake drill on Sunday at 11 a.m. The command, together with all emergency services and government ministries, simulated a major earthquake causing 7,000 “casualties.”

The Home Front Command took over TV and radio broadcasts, and sent out text message alerts issuing instructions on what to do during an earthquake. The same happened at 7 p.m.

The advice to civilians was to try and get outside.

In any real earthquake, the Israel Police would have initial command of the situation, but if wide-scale destruction occurs, the Home Front Command would take charge.

Emergency responders were not told of the specifics of the drill, and were expected to react to unknown factors as the exercise developed. Emergency planners have also taken into account the threat of enemy missile fire following an earthquake.

“If I could choose between the scenario of an earthquake and the scenario of a missile attack on Israel, I’d choose the second, because of the scope of damage [that an earthquake would cause], and [because of] our deterrence abilities,” Dichter said last week.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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