Israel readying for nationwide war drill

14:38, June 15, 2011      

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Amid growing tensions along its borders, Israel will launch a nationwide drill on Sunday intended to prepare its 7.5 million citizens, the security establishment, and civil emergency services for the possibility of war.

The five-day exercise, dubbed "Turning Point 5," is the fifth to be held since the 2006 Lebanon war, when northern Israeli cities were hit by an estimated 4,000 rockets fired by Hezbollah militants.

Israel's military and intelligence community has said in recent assessments that tens of thousands of projectiles currently stocked by its regional neighbors, as well as militant organizations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, could shower down in a future war, effectively turning the entire country into a front.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in an unusual move, recently released maps pinpointing what it said were more than a thousand missile and weapons sites scattered throughout southern Lebanon.

The IDF Home Front Command and the Defense Ministry's National Emergency Administration will preside over the exercise.

A statement issued by the IDF overnight Monday said this year's drill will be the biggest of its kind, with the participation of more than 80 local councils and 70 percent of the civilian population.

As well, schools and kindergartens throughout the country, along with military bases, government ministries and public institutions will take part in bomb-shelter drills.

The Home Front Command will try out its "Personal Message" cellphone alert system. Text messages reading "This is a test, have a nice day" will be sent to hundreds of thousands of private cellphones.

Officials say the system, which is synced with military missile radar systems, as well as emergency services and other first- responders, would provide the populace with near-instantaneous alerts in specific areas targeted by incoming missiles, in order to allow sufficient time to seek cover.

The system is also able to automatically override television and radio programming to broadcast alerts, as well as operate air- raid sirens.

The statement said the drill will also include testing the distribution of individual gas mask kits, and coordination between various emergency services.

Source: Xinhua
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