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Rocket sirens to sound out as part of country-wide drill

Warnings to be heard at 11:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m. as Israelis are asked to test their preparedness for attack

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon seen during an emergency drill as part of the "Turning Point 15" exercise, at a school in Rishon Lezion on June 1, 2015  (Diana Hananshvili/Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon seen during an emergency drill as part of the "Turning Point 15" exercise, at a school in Rishon Lezion on June 1, 2015 (Diana Hananshvili/Ministry of Defense)

Two rocket sirens will sound in cities across the country Tuesday — at 11:05 a.m. and 7:05 p.m. — as part of Israel’s annual nationwide emergency drill.

Civilians were requested to rush to bomb shelters when the sirens ring, in a test of their ability to seek cover in case of a rocket attack. The exercise is also intended to check that sirens are working properly.

The mock warning will also be broadcast on TV and radio as well as on the Home Front Command website. Text message reminders will be sent to mobile phones nation-wide half an hour before the drill.

Sirens will not sound near the Gaza Strip after residents, scarred by last summer’s war, asked to be excluded.

Security officials noted that, should the drill coincide with a real rocket attack, a second siren will sound immediately after the first.

It is the first time the country will be practicing for such an eventuality in the framework of a drill and comes in the wake of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge — which exposed a potentially massive threat from Hamas in the form of terror tunnels that infiltrated into Israeli territory — and amid reports that another round of violence may be coming with the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which claims to have built a sophisticated tunnel network on Israel’s northern border.

The drill will include a large-scale exercise in evacuating and rehousing civilians caught on the front lines. According to military assessments, a future conflict with Hezbollah could include a scenario in which the IDF may have to evacuate citizens due to attempts by the terror group to infiltrate and occupy Israeli towns, NRG reported Sunday.

Turning Point 15, which started Sunday, will test the preparedness of the country to deal with a massive coordinated rocket attack on population centers across Israel, including damage to essential infrastructure, as well as a cyber attack that brings down the electrical and telephone grids.

A screen shot of a siren. (screen capture: YouTube)
A screen shot of a siren. (screen capture: YouTube)

The drill, which will simulate simultaneous attacks from the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon, will involve Home Front command officers, as well as police, medics, firefighters, local officials and other bodies.

The air force and navy will also run large exercises over the week.

Among the simulated challenges will be the closing of Ben-Gurion International Airport due to attacks, evacuating wounded out of the country, large population movements as people seek to find shelter and the creation of tent cities, according to the Walla news site.

For many, the drill will be a brief flashback to the summer of 2014, as Israel waged a 50-day war with Hamas-led fighters in Gaza that saw thousands of rockets fired at Israel, including as far north as Haifa’s suburbs. The summer war also saw sporadic rocket-fire from Lebanon and Syria in the country’s north, and the cancellation of hundreds of flights after a rocket landed near the airport.

The Turning Point drill was first instituted in 2007, following the Second Lebanon War, during which the north of the country was targeted by thousands of Hezbollah rockets, revealing shortcomings in Israel’s official response.

The exercise is meant to be the Home Front Command’s largest annual operation, but in 2014 it was scaled back due to budget cuts.

Other Turning Point drills have tested the country’s ability to deal with natural disasters and chemical attacks.

Israeli and American soldiers participate in a joint earthquake drill in Holon on October 21, 2012. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Israeli and American soldiers participate in a joint earthquake drill in Holon on October 21, 2012. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

While maintaining there is no imminent threat of war, military officials have warned that both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza have rearmed to prepare for possible future conflicts with Israel, including stockpiling thousands of missiles — in Hezbollah’s case hundreds of thousands — including many that can hit Tel Aviv, and rebuilding other infrastructure, including tunnels.

A Gazan missile attack last week near Ashdod caught residents off guard as sirens rang out in the area for the first time since an August ceasefire with Hamas.

The Grad missile, which landed harmlessly near the town of Gan Yavneh, was shot as a result of internal fighting within Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad, according to Israeli and Gazan sources.

Ya’alon warned afterward. that Gaza would pay a “heavy price” if attacks continued.

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