IDF Drill Included Tsunami, Demolished School

The scenario simulated a strong earthquake in Eilat and a second quake in northern Israel, 2,600 casualties.

Yoni Kempinski & Gil Ronen,

Evacuating a "casualty"
Evacuating a "casualty"
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The IDF rehearsed an emergency scenario in which an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale takes place in Eilat at 11:00 a.m. and a second, even stronger quake, subsequently hits northern Israel.

According to the scenario, MDA then receives reports of thousands of buildings collapsing throughout Israel, damage to hospitals, power outages and more.

In addition, the drill included a tsunami wave, a school in ruins, a mass casualty situation on Nahariya's train station, a crash landing of a jet plane in Eilat, building collapses at Hebrew University and two prisons, a train wreck and more.

The drill had MDA emergency crews treating 2,600 "casualties" throughout Israel, 1,800 of them in moderate to serious condition.

Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the drill accompanied by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Home Front Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eizenberg. After being briefed by Maj.-Gen. Eisenberg and observing the exercise in an urban area, Netanyahu spoke to the press and soldiers who were on the scene

"The uniqueness of this exercise", explained Prime Minister Netanyahu, "is that in encompasses all government ministries, all of our rescue organizations, all of our systems, and the ability to organize – on a national level – a powerful national event in which we combine together all aspects of administration in Israel, including local governments. I congratulate the Mayor [of Holon]; you certainly know how to organize here a presentation that seems very realistic and I hope that it will not become such. Now, it must be understood that there is a basic difference between such an event and missile and rocket attacks on the home front. The main difference is that in the event of an earthquake, to the extent possible, we want people to exit the buildings and in a missile attack, we want people to go into buildings."

"This is a major difference", emphasized Netanyahu, "There is a great difference in the warning. In effect, there is practically no warning for an earthquake. There are warnings, and this is one of things we are doing on the home front, we give warnings in other cases, but here there is a network that is being built from exercise to exercise, we are investing major resources and considerable effort in it, as you see here. I think that this will help us. It is always said that the tougher the training, the easier the battle. It is not clear that this will be so easy in reality but we are preparing ourselves, and the State of Israel is preparing itself for these situations, I think better than any other country in the world."

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated one of the first conclusions which can already be noted during the drill - the danger of buildings built in the early stages of the State. "We will have to take the main form of preventive action and this involves major reconstruction programs in older neighborhoods in city centers. This is perhaps the main thing that we can do because we see that when there is new construction, the problem is much less serious and survival is much more significant. Therefore, there is something that we need to do between the exercises – rebuild our city centers with new construction."