iranian missile 311.
(photo credit: AP)
A national war drill will be held at the end of the month to test the country’s responses to a scenario of hundreds of rockets being fired on the home front.
The annual exercise, Turning Point 4, will take place May 23-27, and will be managed jointly by the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and the IDF Home Front Command. The Israel Police, Magen David Adom, government offices and local authorities will all be involved.
The ability of local authorities to deal with large-scale rocket attacks will form the centerpiece of the exercise, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
“After the Second Lebanon War, we concluded that the ultimate responsibility rests with the local authorities,” he said. “If you seek peace, prepare for war.”
The minister stressed that the exercise was an annual and routine affair that was not linked in any way to fears of looming war. He added that messages of assurance “have been sent where they needed to be sent” to allay any tensions that could be caused by the exercise.
Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, commander of the Home Front Command, said an unprecedented number of local authorities, 68, would participate in the drill, which will include field simulations to test emergency responses.
On Wednesday, May 26, an air raid siren will sound across the country, and citizens will be asked to head for safe areas or bomb shelters as part of the exercise.
“In addition, there will be several sirens in local councils during the exercise,” Golan said.
In 2009, 50 percent of the population took an active role in the drill during the siren, Golan said, adding that he hoped “even more would respond this year.”
The Home Front Command has asked citizens to “enter safe zones chosen ahead of time when the siren sounds.” Detailed instructions on how to select a safe zone are available on the Home Front Command Web site.
The Home Front Command will also practice taking over the distribution of gas masks – a task now managed by the Israel Postal Company – to ensure rapid distribution during a time of conflict.
Eight cities – Tirat Hacarmel, Safed, Yokneam, Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Holon and Tel Aviv – will see gas mask distribution centers opened by the Home Front Command for a day during the drill, and local residents will be able to collect masks.
Ze’ev Zuk Ram, Head of NEMA, said the exercise would test the ability of
government ministries to coordinate responses with regional councils.
Responding to a question by a journalist, Ram added that Arab regional
councils would play as active a role as the remainder of councils.
The government will test its ability to keep basic infrastructure like
electricity, water and transportation running during the exercise, as
well as the manufacture of basic necessities.
Vilna’i said the drill was aimed at preparing the country for a
full-scale conflict, adding that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last year
“was not a war, but a limited operation which affected one region and a
small percentage of the population.”