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Israel: War Preparedness Week – Nationwide Exercises

idf tank.jpgMilitary, civil defense and government officials stress that the launch of the nation’s “largest ever” preparedness drill is not related to recent tensions along the Syrian border or any other current event scenario, but the result of the Second Lebanon War.

Officials point out that an exercise of the magnitude of this week’s event is not something put together in a matter of days, explaining one of the lessons learned following the war was the need to evaluate the preparedness of the nation, prompting the decision to hold the week’s events.


The training event began today, Sunday, with the government activating its situation room, an important segment of the training event since government the government’s performance in the war was a subject of much harsh criticism.

Another result of the war was the formation of the National Emergency Authority, or “Rachel” as per the Hebrew acronym, which is overseeing the events around the country this week. The operation on a government level is being handled by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, a retired IDF major-general.

During days one and two of the drill, Sunday and Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will conduct Security Cabinet meetings, briefings and consultations, while the ‘situation room’ will get a real test vis-à-vis its ability to absorb, channel and process information and serve as a hub for the various agencies and the stream of information that accompanies a real nationwide emergency situation.

Some areas will actually begin simulations on Monday.


On Tuesday morning, sirens will sound around the country at 10am, at which time Israelis will be instructed to seek shelter in the nearest bomb shelter or protected/safe room. Channel 33, the IDF Homefront Command emergency broadcast station will get its debut, giving emergency instructions to Israelis following the sounding of the air raid sirens. Gadi Sukenik will be the voice heard by the nation, a veteran member of the press who is familiar with broadcasting under stress and deemed extremely capable to deliver a message of urgency together with calm and reassurance.

Some of the simulations include; firing surface-to-surface missiles armed with chemical warheads and rescuing trapped victims in a building in Meron and Nazareth. There will also be simulations of different non-conventional attacks, unfortunately realities of the region today that must be rehearsed.

The sirens will not be sounded in southern Israel, where residents have been accustomed to hearing them for some seven years as rockets continue to pound their cities and homes. This was the case over Shabbos two, where at least two Grad rockets were fired into the southern portion of the country.


Emergency response agencies, including Magen David Adom, the nation’s primary emergency medical service responder, along with other medical and security agencies will respond to simulated ‘hit zones’ and treat the victims. Simulated attacks will include an array of threats, both conventional and non-conventional, testing the performance of civilian and military agencies and their ability to address multi-causality incidents under the harshest of conditions.

Students in schools and civil servants in government offices will also receive instructions as how to act and react.

Obviously, an event of this size relies heavily on the involvement of the IDF’s Homefront Command, Israel Police, hospitals, and local government emergency agencies.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent messages of calm to Syria and Lebanon, stating this is a preparedness exercise and nothing more. Other ministers released statements, some less diplomatic, like Ze’ev Boim, who stated we must prepare ourselves for a situation in which ‘the homefront becomes the battlefield.”

Foreign Minister Livni: “Assad does not need this opportunity to know where Israel is on the map.”

When asked if Israel must conduct talks with Syria, Gideon Ezra stated, “I support talks with all Arab nations, even Hamas.”


Despite words of calm and reassurance by the prime minister, Syria is opting to maximize the propaganda aspect of the week’s events, announcing it fears and Israeli attack. Some media reports last week state there was an activation of reserve duty forces and troop movements in Syria along its border with Israel. Lebanon has called on UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon to exhibit vigilance, warning against a possible Israeli attack, and Hizbullah commander in southern Lebanon Nabil Kaouk stated he and his forces will be carefully monitoring all goings-on.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

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