Gantz on drill: I don't foresee us entering a conflict soon

IDF chief discusses civil defense exercise "Turning Point 5" on Wednesday, says "this is neither the first one nor the last one."

By JPOST.COM STAFF
June 22, 2011 12:00
2 minute read.
IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz

Gantz 311 . (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

 
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IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz surveyed the nationwide civil defense exercise, "Turning Point 5," from Nazereth Illit on Wednesday.

"The drill has just begun," he said, continuing, "This is neither the first one nor the last one. Nor is it a special drill. It is important to continue to train in order to be prepared."

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Regarding the chances of a conflict erupting on the northern border with Lebanon and Syria or along the Gazan border in the south, Gantz stated, "I don't foresee us entering a conflict any time soon. But reality is uncertain, and has the ability to change from one situation to another in a matter of hours. It is important to continue to train properly. Lessons will be learned from this exercise and we will continue it next year."

IDF Home Front Commander Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, who replaced Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan as head of the IDF Home Front Command last week, said that the IDF was conducting the drills in order to "prepare civilians for life-threatening scenarios."

Also speaking about the drill on Wednesday, former head of IDF intelligence Amos Yadlin warned that the missiles being aimed at Israel today are not only targeted towards peripheral communities such as Sderot and Kiryat Shmona, but rather that "they are being aimed at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem."

Army Radio quoted Yadlin as saying "these missiles will not disappear, even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed."

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An air raid siren sounded throughout the country on Wednesday as part of the exercise. The first siren was heard at 11 in the morning, with an additional siren scheduled for 7 in the evening.

The IDF Home Front Command decided to add an extra siren in the evening to enable families to practice their responses to missile attacks while at home together – not only in the mornings when people are either at work or in school.

The security cabinet met in an underground bunker in an undisclosed location in the Judean Hills on Wednesday as part of the drill. The bunker is meant for the prime minister and his cabinet in case of a missile attack.

Their special “emergency” meeting was scheduled for 8:30 a.m., and the ministers were asked not to bring any advisers or aides.

The Knesset also took part in the exercise on Wednesday, stopping a plenum discussion for ten minutes and evacuating to the building's bomb shelter.

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said of the parliamentarians that they "see special importance that the Knesset take part in this exercise, not just as citizens of the state but rather because we are threatened and a target of attack."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday – as part of the same war drill – dozens of the country’s spokespeople from a variety of governmental and security bodies simulated how they are to act in time of mass missile attacks.

Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, who took part in the exercise, emphasized the importance of carrying out public diplomacy during times of war, saying that today the battle in the media is no less important than that at the front.

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