Hundreds would die, missiles would rain everywhere in all-out war, IDF predicts
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Hundreds would die, missiles would rain everywhere in all-out war, IDF predicts

Ahead of nation-wide exercise, Home Front Command says 230,000 rockets are aimed at Israel, though only a few would cause carnage should conflict break out

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Soldiers in the IDF Home Front Command's search and rescue units carry a stretcher during a large-scale exercise in Zikim near the Gaza border on July 3, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Soldiers in the IDF Home Front Command's search and rescue units carry a stretcher during a large-scale exercise in Zikim near the Gaza border on July 3, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Hundreds of Israelis killed in thousands of rocket attacks — that is the army’s Home Front Command’s estimation for what to expect in the event of a future all-out war, according to figures released ahead of a nationwide preparedness drill set for next week.

Beginning next week, the Home Front Command will kick off “Standing Firm,” a preparedness drill which will include exercises to test the ability of the IDF and local governments to handle rocket attacks, terrorists infiltrating communities, electric grid failures and other emergency situations.

Next Tuesday morning, the Home Front Command will sound the rocket alert siren in cities around Israel at different times and then throughout the country at 7:05 p.m., except for the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

According to the army, some 230,000 rockets of various sizes and warhead capacities are currently aimed toward Israel from a host of enemies.

“If in the Second Lebanon War the record was 160 rockets in a day [fired] at the northern region, we need to expect up to 1,200 rockets in a day — it will be a completely different scenario from anything we’ve known,” Maj. Gen. (res) Yitzhak Gershon, Home Front Command chief during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, said in an Army Radio interview earlier this summer.

In the event of an all-out war in which rockets were fired from every border, between 250 and 400 civilians would likely be killed in the conflict, including dozens in the Tel Aviv area. However, the IDF did not elaborate on how long such a war would last or how these figures were estimated.

“In the next war, we determined that a lot of missiles of varying sizes and types will fly at the Israeli home front. Some of them will hit residential areas,” Brig. Gen. Dedi Simchi, chief of staff for the Home Front Command, warned in July.

Tempering the bleak scenario, the army noted that most of the rockets would hit open fields and those that struck inside urban areas would likely cause little damage.

According to the IDF, approximately 95 percent of the projectiles threatening Israel have a range of approximately 25 miles (45 kilometers) and contain just over 20 pounds (10 kilograms) of explosive material.

Children in Kiryat Malachi run for shelter as an air siren sounds in November, 2012, during Operation "Pillar of Defense." (Yuval Haker/IDF Spokesperson)
Children in Kiryat Malachi run for shelter as an air siren sounds in November, 2012, during Operation “Pillar of Defense.” (Yuval Haker/IDF Spokesperson)

These Grad rockets and mortars have limited accuracy, giving them just a one percent chance of hitting a populated area, and their limited explosive capacity means they would not cause extensive damage to any structures they hit.

In addition, many of the projectiles heading toward residential zones, military bases and civil infrastructure should be intercepted by Israel’s missile defense systems, notably the Iron Dome.

The precision of Israel’s rocket alert system has also improved tenfold since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when Hezbollah rockets pounded northern Israel, causing dozens of deaths. Then, the country was divided into 25 alert zones; now, there are 250, Simchi said in July.

Within a year, that number of alert zones should be closer to 3,000, according to the military.

This accuracy means that individual neighborhoods or streets that are about to be hit by a projectile would hear a siren, instead of entire cities or regions, as has been the case in the past.

Devorah Israeli, of Nitzan, with 8-year-old Idan and 6-month-old Ron in the sewage pipe bomb shelter next to her home, which residents complain is not sufficient protection (photo credit: Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Devorah Israeli, of Nitzan, with 8-year-old Idan and 6-month-old Ron in the sewage pipe bomb shelter next to her home, which residents complain is not sufficient protection (photo credit: Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

However, that increased accuracy will come at a slight cost in speed. For instance, Tel Aviv residents have approximately a minute and a half to enter a bomb shelter after hearing a rocket alert siren.

Under the new system, that time would go down to one minute, though the number of people who have to take cover would drop by two-thirds, officials told reporters.

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