The Education Ministry and the Home Front Command held drills in schools across
the country on Tuesday, as part of efforts to prepare students in the event of a
missile attack, fire, or natural disaster.
Education Minister Gideon
Sa’ar (Likud) and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i (Labor), who is
responsible for the home front, attended a drill held at the Ehud Manor
Elementary School in Or Yehuda, where they witnessed students prepare for a
myriad of threats.
The drills focused dealing with a rocket or missile
strike, in particular how to make it to the safe room or escape through the
windows if the doors or ceiling of the building have collapsed.
the drill, the children were led into the safe room in single file lines and
were counted off by name by their teachers.
Sa’ar asked the children how
many of these drills they had carried out and was quickly answered by one
student “at least 30, all the time.”
The pupils then made their way to
the school yard where the Home Front Command, the fire department and the police
had set up a missile strike simulation.
Next to a mound of rubble
concealing a “casualty” and a faux missile sticking out of the ground, a Home
Front Command soldier announced “a direct hit on Or Yehuda.”
point the paramedics sprang into action and carried away a pupil cast in the
role of a missile-strike casualty, while search-and-rescue teams with dogs in
tow began clearing the rubble and excavating a “victim” covered in red body
It was then time for the paramedics to treat the wounded, in this
case a group of pupils with Halloween-style blood and exposed bone make-up on
their arms and legs.
Finally, the fire trucks put on a water cannon show
before the children were taken from booth to booth describing the work of the
various rescue services.
Sa’ar told the students on Tuesday, “we hope of
course that there won’t be incidents where we’ll need to organize in real time
what you practiced just now.
But, we can’t know there won’t be such
incidents and we must be prepared, because being prepared in this way can save
lives, and this is very important.”
Vilna’i addressed the crowd after
Sa’ar, and told children and educators, “Israel must always want peace and
prepare for war. This is the constant situation of the State of Israel. We must
always be prepared for emergency situations.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem
Post last month, Col. Efi Mishov of the Home Front Command’s Population
Department, said that the command’s preparation classes taught in Israeli public
schools are based on the idea that “a student who is taught from a young age how
to be ready for an emergency situation will be an adult who is prepared for an
Mishov said the programs cover issues from missile
strikes to fires to earthquakes and that teachers and soldiers teaching the
course have received pedagogical instruction from the Education
Mishov said that the courses aren’t intended “to take the place
of the instruction given by parents,” but added that when children are prepared
well, it can have a positive impact on their parents’ level of
He also said that the courses “are not meant to scare the
children at all,” adding that children are learning very basic things of a
Not all parents agree. Ronit (not her real name)
from Mevaseret Zion spoke to The Jerusalem Post earlier this month and described
the instructions as having a traumatic effect on her 11-year-old daughter, who
she said has had nightmares and trouble sleeping as a result of the
“They presented all these different things that makes it seem
like they don’t have the training to know what’s suitable for kids to learn
about and what’s not. My daughter said they went into very detailed descriptions
about what would happen to you if there was chemical warfare, for
Ronit said the instructors also “spoke about earthquakes, and
they said stuff like, “you don’t know when this would happen, It could happen at
any moment, even now and children would be buried under the school.”
said she’s afraid to close her eyes now, and doesn’t feel safe at home,” Ronit
In addition to readiness in the face of an attack, earthquake
preparedness has become a hot-button issue in recent years as well. In April
2010, the government approved a comprehensive plan to prepare for a potential
earthquake, as well as a budget of NIS 140 million a year to reinforce public
buildings against earthquakes.
Israel lies on the Syria-African rift, an
area of seismic activity, and experts estimate that in the case of an earthquake
measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale, 16,000 Israelis would die and hundreds of
thousands would be displaced.
Following the Carmel fire in December, the
government in January voted to approve NIS 800 million in additional funding for
The plan includes NIS 350 million to improve the
country’s fire services, NIS 350m. devoted to earthquake preparedness and
another NIS 100m. as an emergency supplement where needed.