Israel drills for potential mass missile attacks (2)

10:56, June 23, 2011      

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Members of Israeli Army participate in an exercise which simulates a rocket attack on Ashdod Port, Israel, on June 22, 2011. Israel is holding a nation-wide, week-long emergency drills simulating simultaneous mass-casualty events. (Xinhua/Rafael Ben-Ari)

"At first I thought it was real, but then they told me it wasn' t real," said nine-year-old Maya Firestone, a student at Jerusalem 's Evelina De Rothschild school. "It was a little crazy because everyone was running around," Firestone said.

Before its 400 pupils filed out of the shelters and back to their classes, school principal Yossi Ohana, using a bullhorn, debriefed the students.

"Our goal was to evacuate all of the students within one-and-a- half minutes into this shelter," Ohana told Xinhua after the drill concluded.

The exercise, which was widely publicized in radio and television spots, as well as online, is meant to ready the populace for the worst, and comprehensively synchronize crisis- management responses to salvos of rockets from neighboring areas slamming into Israeli cities.

One of the simulation's goals is also to warn potential foes that such an attack would cause little damage to a government, public and military protected and readied for the worst.

"Our enemies know perfectly well that if they attack us, we will strike them with very tough blows, but we must prepare," Israel's Home Front Command Minister, Matan Vilnai, told Army Radio on Sunday, "because they have the capacity to fire missiles and rockets at all of our territory."

The Israeli army's former intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Wednesday that "these missiles will not disappear, even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed."

Source: Xinhua

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