Vilna'i pleased with southern rocket drill

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i's office has expressed satisfaction with the outcome of Sunday's drill of a mass rocket attack and shelling of southern cities and communities. During the exercise, the Home Front Command cooperated with firefighters, ambulances, the National Emergency Authority, and the mayors of Kiryat Gat and Ashdod to simulate a large-scale evacuation of affected areas. The simulation was held in a large room in the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, with each participating party sitting at a round table and asked to respond to an ever-changing security scenario which was sometimes presented verbally and sometimes presented in video format. "We're preparing for extreme scenarios," said Vilna'i at the start of the exercise. "Our central aim is to reach a common language and understanding on how to deal with these issues," he added. "There are no magic solutions - there are local authorities here, security forces, and Home Front Command bodies, all of whom are familiar with what we are dealing with. Hamas is making a supreme effort to safeguard the calm - the aim is to learn how things may look if the cease-fire breaks down." The exercise ended on Sunday evening with a list of improvements which need to be made in the coming weeks, especially concerning coordination between the various bodies. Vilnai's office stressed that the invitation of officials from Kiryat Gat and Ashdod to take part was not based on recent intelligence estimates of Hamas rocket ranges. But senior defense officials have repeatedly said Hamas has armed itself with new rockets which can hit targets in Ashdod, Israel's fifth-largest city which is situated 25 kilometers from Gaza, and Kiryat Gat, 21 km. from the Strip.