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      Turning Point 3: Nation Practices Bomb Shelter Drill

      The nation of Israel practiced entering bomb shelters when air raid sirens blared across the countryside at precisely 11 am Tuesday.
      By Hana Levi Julian
      First Publish: 6/2/2009, 9:34 AM / Last Update: 6/2/2009, 12:34 PM

      Israel News Photo: (Flash 90)

      Israelis across the country, from the oldest to the youngest, re-enacted a scene already far too familiar for residents of the Gaza Belt: at precisely 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, air raid sirens activated in every community across the nation, sending citizens into bomb shelters.

      The drill was part of a five-day military exercise dubbed "Turning Point 3" which is designed to tune up the country's readiness for war.

      When the siren sounded, teachers led school children into bomb shelters, shoppers in malls were directed by sales staff to shelters and safe spaces, and office workers made their way to designated shelters and safe rooms in their buildings.

      Citizens at home were asked to enter their designated safe rooms or shelters in their apartment buildings, without delay, and wait there for 10 minutes.

      Essential industry services, including hospitals, continued to operate as usual during the drill. Drivers were also told to continue driving when the air raid siren sounds.

      The public was asked to listen for the siren, and those who did not clearly hear it activate were asked to inform the Home Front Command.

      Following the siren, at 11:10 a.m., an educational program for school students was broadcast on Channels 23 and 33.

      Additional information about the week-long drill is available from the Home Front Command, in English, by clicking here.

      "Every citizen in the State of Israel must know that anywhere in the country, at any time, an emergency scenario can materialize, and one must know how to act," explained Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai Monday night.

      "We expect the general public to take an active part in the drill. We have learned from the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead that those who prepare themselves and practice know how to act during a real situation."

      The first two days of the exercise, which began Sunday, simulated a barrage of missile and terrorist attacks, as well as chemical warfare, aimed at various locations around Israel. According to Vilnai, there was "excellent cooperation" between local and national government offices, and the National Emergency Authority.

      The final day of the drill is set for Thursday.