Defense drill, Day 3: Bomb-laden ship in Ashdod, IDF advances into Syria - scenarios in 'Turning Point 3'

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June 2, 2009 23:24
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The Turning Point 3 national civil defense drill entered its third day on Tuesday, and began a phase that saw IDF Home Front Command personnel, the government, and local authorities respond to a host of simulated emergency situations on the ground. The drill directors labeled Tuesday as the 13th day of a multi-front war in which barrages of conventional and unconventional missiles were being fired at the home front. According to one of the scenarios, IDF troops have entered Syria, and the missile barrages are becoming more intense as Israeli ground forces advance deeper into Syrian territory. "This scenario is based on experiences in the Second Lebanon War," a security official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday evening, noting that Hizbullah kept up its rocket attacks as the army pushed into Lebanon in 2006. In another scenario simulated on Tuesday, a passenger ship carrying an enormous bomb has docked in Ashdod. "It had a very large bomb which could explode and paralyze Ashdod Port," the official said. "We had to prevent that from happening." At 11 a.m., air raid sirens rang out across the country, prompting people to make their way to designated safe rooms for 10 minutes, while schoolchildren were led to bombshelters and shown a 20-minute film on safety procedures. A series of glitches marked the siren drill, however, with the Home Front Command receiving many complaints from people around the country who did not hear the alert. Others struggled to enter bombshelters in time. But uncovering such problems was precisely the reason why the exercise was held, the security official said. "We know many citizens didn't hear the drill. We've had calls to report this, including in areas we thought the sirens were working. This is the purpose of the drill," he said. While some members of the public refrained from taking part in the drill, the official said that many people did play an active part and sought safety upon hearing the siren. "Overall, we are very pleased with the participation. A special emphasis was placed on the evacuation of disabled children to bombshelters, which is not a simple operation. We also tested beeper warnings for the hearing impaired," he said. On Wednesday, a new program aimed at helping people who have been stranded in bombshelters for extended period of times will be simulated in Haifa. In Kiryat Gat, Home Front Command officials will practice rescuing trapped and injured people from a wrecked building in the afternoon. Many of the dozens of scenarios being simulated this week have been kept secret by drill planning committees, which are headed by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ze'ev Livne, who led the Home Front Command when it was created in February 1992 following the First Gulf War, and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh, a former OC Home Front Command and OC Central Command. The committees, based at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, spent months planning the scenarios, and used an army Intranet system to pass the emergency situations on to other drill participants over the past week.

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