Israel yesterday began its 4th annual Turning Point national civil defense drill Sunday. The five-day exercise, developed in response to a concern about the nation’s preparedness, involves the Israeli public of all ages. Though the U.S. does not face the daily threats of Israel, the Turning Point exercise offers useful guidance for this country’s public readiness and engagement efforts. According to the Jerusalem Post:
Under the scenario being drilled, the IDF has been at war in the North for just over two weeks, and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnaâ€™i convened top IDF brass Sunday evening to assess the extent of damage to the country and the number of casualties.
As part of the drill, OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan informed Vilnaâ€™i of his decision to complete the draft of all Home Front Command reservists after close to 200 rockets and missiles, included ones with chemical warheads launched from Syria, landed in the center of the country.
The five-day drill will include the sounding of air sirens nationwide on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Residents are being asked to participate in the drill and to search for the nearest bomb shelter or safe room.
The focus of the drill is on 38 local councils, mostly from the center of the country, which are undergoing a series of simulations to test their ability to continue providing basic services for their residents at a time of war.
Under the scenario, most of the missiles were landing in the Gush Dan region in the center of the country, from which about 200,000 residents decided to flee south. The Eilat Municipality was asked, in the drill, to prepare a plan to absorb some of the refugees.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said citizen preparedness was a key goal of the drill
…in addition to maintaining deterrence, Netanyahu said it was â€œimportant to bolster citizensâ€™ awareness vis-Ã -vis the protection issue â€“ and this is exactly what this exercise will do, starting today and running throughout the week.â€…
Defense Minister Ehud Barak characterized the exercise Sunday as â€œimportantâ€ and a result of lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War.Â â€œWe have no intention at all of starting a war in the North,â€ he said. â€œWe are working toward the opposite, for calm and peace, but a country like Israel has to be prepared, and we are preparing.â€
By coincidence, this year’s Turning Point exercise comes at the exact same time as the U.S.’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week. The difference in public involvement, engagement and compliance between these two awareness events is stark.
School children and security forces take part in the Israeli Home Front Command national exercise in a school last year in Tel Aviv.