An Israeli boy runs up the stairs in a public bomb shelter..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sdot Negev Regional Council emergency- services personnel were in the central region last week to take part in a Home Front Command simulation to train for disasters that may hit their communities.
Lying just outside the Gaza Strip, the Sdot Negev region has a population of more than 7,000 spread through 16 communities.
Given its proximity to the Hamas enclave, Sdot Negev has witnessed frequent rocket attacks; during Operation Protective Edge, 4,594 rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel, with hundreds hitting these communities.
Toward the end of that conflict, Hamas focused on short-range mortar fire with deadly results, killing both soldiers and civilians. On the second to last day of the war, fouryear- old Daniel Tragerman was killed when a mortar shell fired from Gaza hit outside his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, in the neighboring Sha’ar Hanegev region.
The simulation on Thursday saw dozens of emergency services personnel take part in a drill simulation of a building taking a direct hit from a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.
Complete with the sounding of the incoming-rocket siren and the sound of an impact, participants worked as if a real rocket strike had occurred.
“We bring them here to get a high level of training that they couldn’t get back in their own communities,” Lt.-Col. Keren Dan, head of municipal authorities and infrastructure in the Home Front Command, told The Jerusalem Post.
“We are training them to make decisions under pressure. We want them to feel how it is to work during times of emergencies,” she said, adding that all the simulations are filmed and recorded so they can see how they worked and what they may have done wrong. “We want to see how prepared they are and, if they are not, if there are gaps, we need to know so we can change that.”
These types of simulations began after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, when the IDF realized there wasn’t clear cooperation between the army and civilian emergency services.
“We realized that we must strengthen civilian preparedness,” said Dan, indicating that these types of drills began in 2013 with the southern community of Netivot as the first participant.
Another 28 communities were trained from 2013 to 2016, and 22 more are set to be instructed on the simulator this year.
“Every drill is different,” Dan said.
“While we cannot say that what they do on the simulator will happen in real life, we know they will be ready for emergency situations.”
Last month, the IDF warned that Hamas has restored its military capabilities to pre-2014 strength, and the army recently trained for situations in which, during the next war with Hamas, the communities bordering Gaza would be pounded with rockets and mortar shells.