Home Front drill: Holon under chemical weapon attack

Against the background of Iran war talk, Home Front Command launch simulation exercise of chemical weapons attack.

November 3, 2011 19:51
2 minute read.
Home Front Command drill in Holon

Home Front Command drill 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)


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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.

The 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.

A look 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.

Colonel 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 non-conventional."

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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 area."

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