Israeli Home Front preparing for thousands of rockets
IDF believes Hezbollah can strike anywhere in country; electronic systems might also be targeted.
By ANNA AHRONHEIMUpdated: JANUARY 31, 2017 10:18
The IDF Home Front Command is preparing for the thousands of rockets expected to strike Israel during the next war, investing hundreds of millions of shekels over the past two years on defensive measures and strengthening strategic capabilities.The IDF considers Hezbollah the most substantial threat, with at least 120,000 rockets aimed at Israel, many of them able to strike anywhere in the country. While most have a range of just 45 kilometers, the army has said that it expects a bombardment of over 1,000 rockets in the course of just one day.The Home Front Command currently divides the country into 264 polygon alert zones in which a siren is activated once the flight path and expected landing area of a missile or rocket is calculated.The Jerusalem Post has learned that Israel’s already state-of-the-art alert system is being upgraded, as the number of polygon alert zones is set to increase to a few thousand by April 2018.The increase in zones means that, as opposed to a siren sounding for an entire city, individual neighborhoods or streets will be alerted to take shelter.The downside of the increased accuracy is a reduction in alert times. For example, with the present system, a Tel Aviv resident is given approximately a minute-and-a half to take shelter from the moment a siren sounds. With the new system, Tel Aviv residents will have only 45 seconds to one minute to get to a safe zone.While most rockets are expected to hit open fields due to a lack of precision guidance systems, the IDF expects that an estimated 150,000 civilians would leave their homes in the North in the event of a war with Hezbollah.Along with the increased rocket threat, the Home Front Command has also identified a threat to Israel’s electronic systems. As a result, the command has recently instructed civilians to buy transistor radios with spare batteries, water bottles and portable electrical chargers.Coordination and division of responsibilities between the Home Front Command and the National Emergency Authority (known by its Hebrew acronym RACHEL) is said to have significantly improved in the past two years. Local governments, who, along with the command and RACHEL, would be responsible for providing evacuees with any necessary services, have also markedly improved their level of preparedness.In addition to preparing for a mass evacuation, the IDF has spent millions of shekels on upgrading and constructing new public bomb shelters. In this respect, Tel Aviv is considered one of the best protected cities whereas many areas in the Negev are said to be most at risk.One third of Israel’s 200,000 Beduin live in unrecognized villages, many of them in the Negev. For this reason, these villages have neither air raid sirens nor bomb shelters, and incoming rockets to these areas are not intercepted by the Iron Dome.In addition to the 3,000- plus warning sirens throughout Israel, the Home Front Command has also developed apps to alert a user to an incoming rocket or missile as well as automated warnings delivered to all cell phone users. The command has also developed a supplementary alert system for private homes to help ensure that no warning is missed.The command, which conducts annual drills to prepare for emergency scenarios, has also begun conducting annual nationwide emergency drills for schoolchildren.In addition, it has begun a project to teach high school students how to administer first aid to themselves, in the event that the arrival of emergency services is delayed.