Home Front Command drill 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The air raid siren that went off a little after 10am across the country
on Thursday was little more than ambient noise in Tel Aviv, as commuters
and pedestrians made their way through the city in the mid-morning in
no rush to find the nearest bomb shelter.
Minutes later, the Home
Front Command launched an exercise at the "Mikveh Israel" school in
Holon, meant to simulate a chemical weapons attack on the Israeli home
front. Around a grassy knoll a mock rocket was jammed into the soil, as
teenage soldiers by the dozens lay on the ground playing the role of
casualties while a yellowish fog of "chemical gas" skirted the turf.
drill came against the backdrop of a media storm dealing with the
possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities; though
officers at the scene said the drill was planned as much as a year ago,
and was not called in response to the headlines dominating the Israeli
and global media over the past week.
The media glare was obvious
to any observer, watching the Israeli and foreign cameramen
photographing every haz-mat suit and gurney, the pictures painting an
instant narrative of a country preparing its citizens for all-out war.
The cameramen tried to frame the pictures with a dramatic flair, but the
ancient fire trucks on the scene and the anemic water hoses sprinkling
around the rocket probably did not make their jobs easier.
at two of the fire trucks on the scene gave the impression that the
Carmel Fire happened only last week, and caused some of those present to
hope the Iranians aren't watching footage of the drill.
Adam Zussman, commander of the Dan Region of the Home Front Command,
said the drill was meant to "simulate a rocket that lands here in this
area. What we trained for the whole week was a drill that trained all
units to deal with the threats we're going to deal with in the future;
rockets or non-conventional rockets, and this specific rocket is
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Zussman said that the drill was planned a year ago and "has nothing to do with the things going on in the past days in Israel."
He said that rescue services were "improving all the time" and that the
drills "make us more prepared for these things we think will happen in
the next war."
As the "casualties" were being carted off to nearby hospitals, Zussman
gave some advice for Israelis on the Home Front who could face the brunt
of the attack in a coming war.
"The only good advice I can think of right now is to prepare themselves
and their private home and family for the worst, meaning getting ready
the room they're going to be in when the rocket lands, or their gas
masks, or whatever they think they can do to prepare their private