Preparing for war? Israel starts biggest civil defense drill in its history
Israel on Sunday kicked off its biggest civil defense drill in its history, training soldiers, emergency crews and civilians for the possibility of a regional war, which will include the firing of long-range missiles from Iran. The five-day drill, code-named Turning Point III, will feature also simulated rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Air-raid sirens are to sound across the country on Tuesday and for the first time all Israeli civilians will simultaneously be required to practice taking cover when the sirens go off.
According to the AP, despite the growing tensions with Iran, Israeli leaders have played down any connection between those tensions and the comprehensive exercise. On his part, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio the drill "was not created as a response to the events of recent weeks and months."
Defense officials said the Turning Point series of exercises was designed to implement lessons learned from Israel's 2006 war with Hizbullah, when the Lebanese militia fired some 4,000 Katyusha rockets across the border at Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday that the drill was "standard" procedure and not directed against any regional entity in particular. "This is a standard activity intended to prepare the Home Front for emergency and has nothing to do with intelligence information of any kind," he said, according to Haaretz.