Knesset Members, Citizens Run for Cover in Massive Drill

Knesset Members and citizens throughout Israel ran for bomb shelters on Wednesday as part of a huge national drill to prepare for hostile missiles.

Malkah Fleisher and Yoni Kempinski, | updated: 22:29

Uzi Landau
Uzi Landau
Hezki Ezra

Emergency sirens wailed across Israel Wednesday morning as part of an enormous national civil defense drill to prepare in the case of large-scale missile strikes on Israel. 

Emergency teams, soldiers, police and medical crew were mobilized throughout the country to practice the scenario.  When the warning signal rang at 11:00 a.m., citizens and school children rushed to bomb shelters as part of the drill, dubbed Turning Point 4. Hospitals moved ambulatory patients to shelters and others away from windows. Shaarei Tsedek Hospital in Jerusalem held its scheduled board meeting in the shelter.

Advertisements were placed in major news outlets for a week prior to the siren drill, to prevent panic amongst citizens and to encourage participation.

The siren sounded for a minute and a half, during which time citizens took cover in shelters. The sirens did not cut into sound on radio and tv stations as they do in a real air raid. Citizens were asked to remain in place for 10 minutes. Travelers on the road were not asked to stop driving to take part in the drill.

Israel's Knesset also participated. Meetings and sessions were brought to an abrupt halt when the siren sounded, with Knesset members and staffers rushing to shelters located in the building.

Some Samaria residents also had a special role to play in the exercise.  In the city of Elon Moreh, which neighbors the biblical city of Shechem, residents practiced absorbing mortar attack refugees from Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reassured citizens that the massive week-long exercise in which Wednesday's drill took place is not an indicator of specific threats to Israel.  According to the Prime Minister, the drill has been scheduled for some time. Prime Minister Netanyahu also said Israel is highly prepared and capable of defending itself.

The drill, the fourth of its kind to be held since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, will end on Thursday.