IDF Chief of Staff With the Troops
IDF Chief of Staff With the TroopsIsrael news photo: IDF

Israel is continuing to prepare for the possibility of war this week with the country's fifth annual nationwide Home Front defense drill. The "Turning Point" military exercise series has been conducted annually since the 2006 Second Lebanon War against the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization.

 “Turning Point 5” is a military exercise being held on home front defense -- what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet at its weekly Sunday meeting is the country's “new front.”

Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who was present at the meeting, said this year's exercise would address “extreme situations such as massive firing deep into the State of Israel.”  At present, some 60 percent of the population has obtained newly-updated gas masks, according to Vilnai. During the exercise, more will be available and distributed to the population.

At least one of those scenarios will entail sustained rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv region, a geriatric hospital and/or the electrical power grid. In addition, Knesset members will also be expected to respond to a simulated attack on the Knesset in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, June 22, there will be two sirens during which Israelis will be asked to enter their pre-selected protected spaces. One will sound at 11:00 a.m. while the general population is at work. “Everyone will have to ask himself, 'What must I do?' Vilnai said. The other will be activated at 7:00 p.m. when most people are at home with their families – and should ask “what are they to do,” he said.

Vilnai said the drill is designed as much for the Cabinet ministers “so that we might coordinate among ourselves” as well as it is for everyone else involved in defense. All told, some 80 municipalities will participate in the exercise, along with military, police, firefighters and emergency services. The Home Front Command will also test an emergency SMS service during the drill, according to the IDF.

“I assume that the State of Israel's deterrent capability, its ability to exact a high price from the other side, is clear to the other side, which will avoid this as much as possible. It understands why it should avoid it,” Vilnai added in a clear warning to Israel's enemies.