kibbutz kfar aza_311.
(photo credit: (Liat Collins))
Israel entered its 10th day of simulated war on Monday, after close to 7,000 rockets and missiles – some with chemical warheads – struck throughout the country, killing close to 600 people and wounding another 18,000.
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As the death toll continues to rise, the IDF has launched ground offensives in southern Lebanon and Syria in an effort to reduce the missile fire.
While the ground operations are impairing Hezbollah’s and Syria’s ability to fire short-range rockets – like the more than 4,000 fired by Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 – it was not hurting their ability to fire long-range missiles into Tel Aviv, since these missiles are deployed deeper inside Lebanon and Syria.
As the missile fire continues, an immediate flaw that stands out is the lack of gas masks among Israel’s population.
By the end of 2011, only 60 percent of Israelis will have gas masks, and
with chemical missiles hitting Tel Aviv, Haifa and the Golan Heights,
certain parts of the country have come to a standstill.
This “war” was imaginary and simulated at the Defense Ministry on
Monday, during the second day of the nationwide civil-defense exercise
called “Turning Point 5.” According to Home Front Defense Minister Matan
Vilna’i, the drill is 100 percent realistic.
“I wish these scenarios were all imaginary and were all our invention,”
Vilna’i told The Jerusalem Post on Monday during a tour of the exercise
command. “Anyone, though, who is a professional and deals with these
issues knows that these are real scenarios and events that can
The main parts of the exercise, overseen by the Defense Ministry’s
National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) is being conducted in two
parts of the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv – one in a large
conference room filled with policemen, soldiers and representatives of
the Prisons Service, the other in a large tent filled with desks for
each government ministry.
“The idea is to get everyone to sit together, to get to know one another
and to speak a common language,” Vilna’i explained. “We need to
understand that just as there is a military front where the soldiers are
fighting, there is also a civilian front, and that is what we are
trying to protect.”
Some 80 municipalities and local authorities are participating in the
exercise, which will reach its peak on Wednesday when air raid sirens
will sound twice throughout the country – once in the morning and once
NEMA has incorporated the threat of cyberwarfare, hacking to conduct
sabotage and espionage, into the drill, as well as the effect that
damage to critical infrastructure, like the water system or the
electricity grid, could have on the country in a war.
Over the past year, NEMA has mapped out the nation’s critical
infrastructure and instructed relevant authorities on what needs to be
protected from cyberwarfare. In a state of emergency – for example, if
the water system is attacked – NEMA is responsible for deciding which
communities or facilities continue to receive water and where it is
diverted to. The same applies to electricity.
“A country that relies heavily on computer systems will face advantages
and disadvantages,” Vilna’i said. “We are dealing with this all the
time, and we are in the beginning stages of what is a complex reality.”