'Was this because of Iran?' children ask from their underground classrooms
By ABE SELIG
"Is this more for Kassam rockets or a Shihab 3?" a young pupil asked as he sat on the floor of a bomb shelter in an elementary school in Jerusalem's Yafe Nof neighborhood Tuesday morning.
The wail of an air siren had just echoed across the capital, and the third day of the Home Front Command's "Turning Point 3" drill was underway.
"This was a drill for any type of rocket fire," one of the teachers responded, "and while we're not too concerned about these types of things in Jerusalem, we must be ready for every scenario."
Upon hearing the siren, pupils had shuffled hand-in-hand from the school building down to the shelter, while teachers spurred them on. Once inside, the kids sat cross-legged on the floor, and engaged in short debriefing with the school staff.
"You did a fantastic job," the school's principal said, beaming. "There was a small delay at the entrance to the shelter, and we're going to work on that further, but overall, everyone performed wonderfully."
For their part, the pupils seemed at ease with the drill, treating it no differently than a regular fire drill, even though a monotonous female voice, similar to that heard during Sderot's "Color Red" alerts, had announced "Rocket fire drill, Rocket fire drill" on the school's PA system as the city-wide siren was blaring.
"Was this because of Iran?" another pupil asked, this time to MANHI (Jerusalem Education Administration) director-general Bentzion Nemet, who was also on hand for the drill.
"To my sorrow, the people of Israel are still not living safely within their country," Nemet answered. "And if it's Haman or Ahmadinejad who is threatening us, we have to be ready for it."
The Education Ministry held similar drills at schools across the country on Tuesday, making sure that pupils from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat knew where to go in case of an emergency. Coordinating for two months with Home Front Command officers and the National Emergency Authority, the ministry had already opened an emergency command center on Sunday, when the nationwide drill officially began.
Tuesday was the climax of the drill, as thousands of pupils, along with the majority of the country's citizens, hurried to secure rooms and shelters with the sounding of the siren at 11a.m.
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