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Forces drill for massive chemical terror attack on new Tel Aviv light rail

Over 1,000 members of security and emergency services, hundreds of mock victims participate in exercise at three locations along soon-to-open transport system

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli authorities held a large-scale drill at the soon-to-open Tel Aviv light rail on Tuesday night, simulating a chemical terror attack and creating real-world traffic headaches.

The joint drill held by the Defense Ministry, military, police, fire services, Health Ministry, and Tel Aviv municipality, involved over 1,000 members of security and emergency forces and several hundred extras simulating victims at various degrees of injuries.

According to the Defense Ministry, the drill took place at three main points along the new light rail system — in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, and Ramat Gan —  at both above-ground and underground stations.

The main part of the exercise took place at the underground Allenby station in Tel Aviv, the ministry said.

Aside from a simulated chemical substance being spread on platforms and trains, the forces also practiced responding to shooting and bombing attacks.

Dozens of foreign observers also arrived to watch the drill “as part of international learning and cooperation processes,” the ministry said.

Security forces hold a drill simulating a chemical terror attack at the Allenby light rail station in Tel Aviv, on November 22, 2022. (Defense Ministry)

Police shuttered several main roads in the three cities for several hours amid the drill, causing heavy traffic in central Israel.

The ministry said the drill was preplanned, meaning it did not stem from a new assessment or threat.

The chemical terror attack exercise is part of a series of drills “to improve national preparedness for a terror incident,” the ministry said.

The new Allenby underground station of the light rail Red Line in Tel Aviv, June 23, 2022. Some of the mass transit system runs underground. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv light rail’s Red Line is expected to open in mid-2023, after numerous delays.

The Red Line, which will run from Petah Tikva to southern Bat Yam via Tel Aviv, is the first of three planned light rail lines, which will include underground sections, along with the proposed addition of three subway lines.

When completed, the light rail and subway network will cover the entire Tel Aviv metro area with 240 kilometers (149 miles) of track and hundreds of stations, linking Ra’anana and Kfar Saba north of the city to Rishon Lezion and Rehovot to its south, as well as Lod, Ramle, Ben Gurion Airport and everywhere in between.

The six planned lines are slated to be completed sometime in the next decade at a cost of NIS 18 billion ($5.19 billion) and counting. It is Israel’s largest-ever infrastructure project.

Danielle Nagler contributed to this report. 

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