(photo credit: IDF [file])
The Defense Ministry is planning a nationwide exercise for next year that will, for the first time, include the entire population.
The exercise, scheduled for July, is called Turning Point 3. It will be the third home front exercise to be held since the Second Lebanon War and the founding of the National Emergency Administration (NEA), the Defense Ministry body responsible for setting national emergency standards.
Turning Point 1 was held in the summer of 2007 and drilled the IDF, Israel Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Home Front Command and other emergency organizations. The second drill, held last April, included all of the above plus various government ministries.
"The third drill will include all of the emergency organizations, all of the government ministries [and] the entire civilian population," a top NEA official told The Jerusalem Post this week. "People will be asked to go into their protected rooms or bomb shelters and ensure that they know what to do in the event of a war."
On Monday, the NEA conducted an exercise for government spokespeople to see how they would function during a crisis. Spokespeople from the Prime Minister's Office, the Defense Ministry, IDF, Home Front Command, Israel Police and other bodies participated in the event, which was overseen by NEA head Brig.-Gen. (res.) Ze'ev Zuk-Ram.
"It is important that we have a unified message and not confuse the public," the NEA official said. "The problem today is that each ministry has several spokespersons and all of the ministries do not always coordinate what they are doing."
According to the preliminary guidelines for Turning Point 3, the public will also be asked to take out their gas masks - but not to open the box - to ensure that they know where the kit is in the event of a nonconventional missile attack.
The Post has learned, however, that due to continued budget disputes between the Treasury and the Defense Ministry, it is unlikely that gas masks will be reissued to the public by the time the exercise takes place.
In May, the cabinet decided to give back the gas masks, which were collected in 2006 for refurbishment. The initial plan was to begin redistributing the masks next month, but due to a lack of funds, the Defense Ministry was not able to complete the refurbishment - and it does not yet have a budget for the redistribution, either.