Chemical attack drill (file)
Chemical attack drill (file) Israel news photo: Flash 90

In Tel Aviv, city officials and Home Front Command have found a way to “sweeten” the bitterness of a new routine for residents who for years never had to practice running to bomb shelters.

Although the White City will hear the air raid siren wail at six o’clock Wednesday evening – and residents will indeed be ordered to make a run for the nearest bomb shelter – they will also know there's a party to follow later on.

There will be a firework display, and a carnival atmosphere has been arranged for the children featuring trampolines, karaoke, popcorn and ice cream to celebrate a successful drill in the related areas where the exercise is conducted.

The drill is being carried out starting at 5:00 p.m. – when the Home Front Command will initiate emergency radio transmissions on satellite TV channel 717.

Grim reality

But behind the carnival atmosphere there is a grim reality. Intelligence officials are aware that the increasing instability to the north and south of Israel's borders could spill over at any time. Of particular concern are Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles; evidence has already emerged of small-scale use of chemical weapons by both sides in the Syrian civil war, and Israeli security officials are concerned that it may only be a matter of time before the Syrian regime's sizeable stockpile falls into the hands of  jihadists on either side of the conflict (Iranian-backed Hizbullah on the one hand, or Al Qaeda-affiliated groups on the other) who could potentially turn them southwards towards Israel.

The exercise this evening will simulate chemical missile attacks on the IDF’s headquarters at the Kirya military base, and on two east Tel Aviv residential neighborhoods, Bitzron and Ramat Yisrael.

All residents will be asked to enter bomb shelters and/or the nearest safe room, and tune into HOT or YES for instructions on what to do next. Those who agree to cooperate will be voluntarily evacuated as part of the exercise.

After the operation is completed, all of the city’s citizens are invited to participate in the giant fair that is being arranged by the municipality.

“We believe this will increase the readiness of our citizens,” a senior Home Front Command official told Arutz Sheva. “We hope everyone will cooperate. We know not everyone has gas masks, but we also hope that those who do not have them will take this opportunity to do what they must to acquire the kits.”    

The names of the distribution stations are listed on the Home Front Command’s website. Distribution centers will be available in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and Holon as part of the drill.

During the drill, which began Tuesday and ends Thursday, senior commanders are  testing the level of operational readiness and cooperation between relevant agencies such as Magen David Adom, the Tel Aviv Municipality, Israel Police, Fire and Rescue Service and Home Front Command.