Israel’s nationwide Home Front defense drill will focus this year on earthquakes and earthquake preparedness.
The exercise, “Turning Point 6”, will begin on Sunday and continue for five days. The "Turning Point" military exercise series has been conducted annually since the 2006 Second Lebanon War against the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization. The last exercise was held in June of 2011.
Participating in the drill will be the Home Front Defense Ministry, Home Front Command, the National Emergency Authority (NEA), local authorities, government offices, security and rescue organizations, the education and welfare system, health care organizations, and public and private entities.
The IDF said that the drill is an opportunity to prepare the general public and local authorities for a possible earthquake and aims to improve preparedness and response at the national level to an emergency. “Turning Point 6” will deal with issues concerning public broadcasts in times of emergencies, notification of the public of an emergency via text messaging, preparing homes for an earthquake, understanding and implementation of new guidelines for behavior during an earthquake and coordination between emergency organizations.
As part of the drill, Israel’s central television and radio stations' broadcasts will be interrupted at 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m on Sunday. The stations whose broadcasts will be interrupted are Channel 10, Channel 2, Channel 1, Channel 23, Channel 9, Kol Yisrael radio stations, Army Radio stations and local radio stations.
The broadcast interruption will include a minute-long message announcing that an earthquake has occurred and providing the public with instructions. Also on Sunday, the Home Front Command will test its "Private Message" project, which provides Israelis with security-related announcements directly to their mobile devices. Such text messages may be received by Israelis all across the country at 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The drill will also involve schools and preschools across the country, government agencies and public institutions.
It should be emphasized that all traffic and all essential services, including hospitals, will continue regular operations even during the drill. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stressed that the exercise was planned in advance as part of the IDF’s training schedule for 2012.
In July, the Home Front Command launched a new campaign aimed at informing Israeli citizens about earthquakes and earthquake preparedness.
Israel is located in a region that is vulnerable to the Syria-African Rift, a northern extension of Africa's Rift Valley. There have been several earthquakes which were felt in Israel in recent months but which caused no injuries or property damage.
In May, an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale rocked Israel and was felt in areas from northern Israel to central Israel. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake’s epicenter was in Cyprus.
In February, a 3.1 magnitude tremor shook Israel's north. There were no injuries or damage following the earthquake. The epicenter of that earthquake was east of Lake Kinneret, and a number of communities in the area reported having felt the quake.
Last Friday, some residents of southern Israel reported feeling a tremor. It was later confirmed that a 5.0 magnitude earthquake had taken place in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.