Israel Turns Out on Turning Pt 3

Top IDF brass will evacuate army headquarters in Tel Aviv along with everyone else next week when the nation goes on alert for 'Turning Point 3.'

Hana Levi Julian ,

The Kirya
The Kirya
Israel National News: (file)

Every top commander at IDF headquarters in the Kirya, including IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, will evacuate the building Tuesday along with all the other soldiers and staff members when the air raid alert is sounded during 'Turning Point 3.'

Billed as the largest nationwide military exercise ever to be held in Israel, 'Turning Point 3' has been designed to involve every member of Israeli society in preparation for the possibility of a future war. This is the third year since the 2006 Second Lebanon War in which the nation has conducted general military drills designed to test and upgrade the country's preparedness skills.

Inasmuch as the surrounding hostile Arab forces such as the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization, Syria and Iran currently possess missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv, this year it was decided to include the Kirya in the drill. It is the first time the IDF Army headquarters will be totally evacuated during such an exercise.

The five-day war games are intended to test the quality of preparation as well as the ability of government and other agencies to coordinate at all levels in response to a Home Front crisis.

All government offices will participate in the drill, as will 252 local authorities, all of which will open "crisis rooms" and will respond to a simulated emergency scenario. Many offices have either modified plans or made some kind of accommodation in order to adjust to next week's expected change in routine.

For example, in the northern Negev city of Arad, Aliyat HaNoar scholarship interviews that were scheduled for students entering the ninth grade next year were hastily rescheduled after office personnel realized they would be trying to conduct affairs in the middle of a full-scale drill.

"It's just not practical," the woman in charge of scheduling told Israel National News. "We are moving all appointments up by one day instead. After all, the entire country will be on alert. You can't conduct interviews and tests while moving back and forth from a bomb shelter."

The irony of her words -- describing the daily life of citizens in southern Israel who until this past January had to function in precisely that manner for eight years due to constant rocket fire from Gaza, until the IDF carried out its counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead -- was not lost on her.

A cab driver in the same city said he would clean out the safe room in his house for the occasion. "I suppose we really should keep it ready anyway," Moshe K. said sheepishly. "This reminds us that we shouldn't take things for granted, and that we always have to be ready. It's a good thing."

Not all Israelis plan to take part in the exercise. Some say that even if they were interested, they would be unable to, due to the state of the bomb shelters in their area.

A resident of Kiryet Sefer explained that in her neighborhood, “Many of the bomb shelters are actually stores or gemachim” [a gemach is a store of goods that are loaned out and shared among members of a community -- ed.] In addition, the path to the nearest bomb shelter, now a store, is blocked. “It's totally inacccessible to us unless we want to go out to the street and run over there from the other side, which would take too long.”

Instead of running to a bomb shelter, she said, she will stand as far as she can from an outer wall when the siren sounds. Her apartment has no reinforced room.

A daycare provider who lives in the Jerusalem area said she will be watching several young children when the siren sounds. Unless there is a real emergency, she said, she will not attempt to move all of the children into the nearest reinforced room.

At precisely 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, air raid sirens will sound in every community throughout the country, and citizens will be told to enter safe spaces. Schoolchildren will be led by their teachers into shelters, where they will stay for a brief period before returning to the classroom.