IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visited the city of Holon, in which the ‘Turning Point 6’ HFC emergency drill was taking place. “Having well-prepared IDF emergency units will allow the IDF to work efficiently not only in events of natural disasters, but also in the case of war,” Gantz said about the drill simulating the event of an earth quake
“Cooperation between the different units is crucial,” Gantz added. “The IDF must have a strong home-front.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter emphasized the importance of a strong home front defense following the IDF Home Front Command national earthquake drill on Sunday.
Netanyahu commented: “Ministers are, first of all, Israeli citizens and like everyone, we are taking part in the drill. No other government has invested as much in home front defense and we still have many plans and much work yet before us. I want Israeli citizens to be protected.”
Underlying the main goal of the drill, Netanyahu continued: “In the event of a missile attack we want people to run inside their homes and in an earthquake we want people to run outside their homes.”
Israel is conducting mass casualty drills to train the nation for a national disaster which focuses on responding to an earthquake but which military officials admitted was also a rehearsal for how to respond to war.
Mired in conflict since before its birth in 1948, Israel’s first ever national disaster drill envisages 7,000 dead, 70,000 casualties and 170,000 made homeless
Brigadier General Mickey Tessler of Israel’s military Home Front Command told Army Radio: “It is very important to emphasise that whoever is ready for earthquakes perforce increases his readiness level for various events, including wartime events.”
The quake drill also coincides with the largest ever joint US-Israeli military exercise, Austere Challenge 2012, which has seen 3,500 US troops arrive in the country.
On Sunday, Israel’s public was asked to evacuate buildings and schools at 11am local time and similar drills ordered by text message, on TV announcements and with sirens are part of the exercise’s night-time programme.
Children across the country also participated, carrying out enactments of the drills in schools.
The two drills which began today are intended to bring Israel up to total national readiness for a multi front regional war.