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IDF to test air raid sirens nationwide on Wednesday

One round of alarms to be heard starting at 10 a.m. and another starting at 6 p.m. as part of home front preparedness drill

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

Israelis sit and pray together inside a street shelter during the 2014 Gaza war in southern Israel on July 11, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israelis sit and pray together inside a street shelter during the 2014 Gaza war in southern Israel on July 11, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Air raid sirens were scheduled to sound in cities and towns across the country on Wednesday, as part of a national home front preparedness exercise being held by the Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry, the military said.

The first round of alerts, in towns and villages, was set to be heard from 10:05 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., and the second round in larger cities from 6:05 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. In addition to the sirens, messages were to be sent out through the IDF Home Front Command application and alerts were to be heard on the radio, television, and some websites.

In case of an actual emergency, the air raid sirens will sound twice, the military said.

The air raid exercise is part of a large nationwide drill meant to simulate a full-scale war with the Hezbollah terror group.

The sirens are specifically being tested in light of adjustments made to the country’s alert system in recent months. Due to improved intelligence and more accurate detection systems, some cities and towns have received new warning times — how long residents of those areas have to enter a bomb shelter before impact. Some have been split into multiple warning zones, meaning people in one part of a city might not need to enter a bomb shelter, while those in another part do. The exercise will be mostly focused on these municipalities, the IDF Home Front Command said.

The alert exercise will begin at 10:05 a.m. in the towns of Kafr Kama, Kiryat Yam, and Kiryat Ata and the Carmiel industrial park. Ten minutes later, sirens will sound in the towns of Acre, Yavniel, Carmiel, Shefaram, Migdal and Kiryat Biyalik. Ten minutes after that, sirens will sound in the towns of Omer and Lakiya, whose warning times have been shortened to one minute. At 10:35 a.m., sirens will sound in Ha’on, Tel Katzir, Maagan, Sha’ar Golan, Massade, Kinneret College, and the Tzemach industrial zone, whose warning times have been extended to 30 seconds. Finally, at 10:45 a.m., sirens will sound in Gashur, Naot Golan, Givat Yoav-Bnei Yehuda, Kfar Haruv, Mevo Hama, Hamat Gader, Ge’aton, Yehiam, Evron, Amir, Kfar Szold, Lehavat Habashan, Gonen, Shamir and Kfar Vradim, all of whose warning times have been shortened to 15 seconds.

At 6:05 p.m., sirens will sound in Jerusalem-North, Ashkelon-North, Ramat Gan-West, Hadera-West and the Palmachim industrial zone. Ten minutes later, they will sound in Jerusalem-East, Jerusalem-Kafr Aqab, Ashkelon-South, Herzliya-Center, Galil Yam, Rishon Lezion-East and Hadera-Neve Haim. Ten minutes after that, they will sound in Jerusalem-Center, Ashkelon industrial zone-North, Rishon Lezion-West, Hadera-Center. At 6:35 p.m., they will sound in Jerusalem-West, Ashkelon industrial zone-South, Herzliya-West, and Netanya-West. Finally, at 6:45 p.m., they will sound in Jerusalem-South, Atarot industrial zone, Ramat Gan-East, Netanya-East, and Hadera-East.

The nationwide preparedness exercise will imagine the results of massive rocket and missile barrages at Israel, based on actual Military Intelligence predictions, including chemical weapons attacks, direct hits on toxic chemical storage facilities within Israel, overwhelmed hospitals, and nationwide power outages.

“We have a document that we can refer to about how a multi-front war will look in terms of its scope and significance. So our scenario gives us a degree of accuracy about possible events and how we can direct and refine the exercise so that it can be really effective,” the director of the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority, Yoram Laredo, told reporters ahead of the drill.

All government offices and emergency services will participate in the exercise, including the Israel Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Magen David Adom ambulance service, and others.

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