"Israel has developed capabilities for identifying and intercepting unconventional weapons,” a top IDF officer said Sunday. “We are not aware, at present, of the presence of unconventional weapons in the hands of Hizbullah nor do we know of such intentions, but there is preparedness for such a scenario,” said Major General Yair Golan, who heads the IDF's Home Front Command.
Golan spoke at the launching of a new civilian readiness campaign by the Home Front Command. The campaign's slogan is “Be prepared, just in case” and it will inform residents of Israel of the number of seconds or minutes they will have from the moment an alarm is sounded in their region to the moment a missile hits. In this time span, the residents are expected to enter predetermined protected spaces. The citizens will also be instructed to prepare the protected spaces in their apartments and offices and store the necessary emergency supplies inside them.
Golan said that two batteries of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system will be deployed in one month's time, but acknowledged that Israel needs more than two Iron Dome systems to protect its citizens.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said that the exercise was planned a long time in advance and is not a response to any security-related development. “There is no security tension,” he said. “The campaign is intended to maintain civilian alertness over time, and not just during exercises.”
New homes in Israel are currently built with predefined “protected spaces,” which are rooms that are relatively well fortified and far from outer walls. These are not bomb shelters, however. In case of an enemy missile attack, the IDF prefers for residents to remain in their apartments or offices because – among other reasons – poison gas is heavier than air and people inside underground bomb shelters would be in greater danger than people who stay in their homes. If the enemy uses conventional weapons, bomb shelters are usually preferable. When all factors are taken into account, however, the IDF prefers the “protected space” solution.
According to reports in Israeli media, a sophisticated underground bunker has been built to protect Israel's government from all kinds of missiles in case of an enemy attack. The ordinary citizens, however, are not as lucky.
A recent IDF campaign for distributing gas masks to civilians at post offices was unsuccessful and apparently met with public indifference.