Nationwide Emergency Drills Underway

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Day one of the five-day countrywide emergency drill began Sunday, with simulated Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel by the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group, followed by simulated missile attacks from Syria and Gaza.

At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed ministers on the "situation."

In Monday's scenario, Iran may begin "launching" Shihab-3 ballistic missiles at Israel.

On Tuesday, when nationwide warning sirens sound at 10:00 a.m., Israelis will make their way to the closest bomb shelter.

Rescue services will conduct simulated mass evacuations following chemical and biological attacks, while hospitals practice treating thousands of injured.

Police: These are drills

Yoram Ohayon, head of the police emergency operations division, restated that the drills are emergency preparedness exercises.

"As far as I know, there is no concrete information that any kind of missile is going to be fired at Israel," Ohayon said. "This exercise is aimed at optimizing the complex inter-organizational response needed for a mass-casualty incident," he said.

"As soon as a threat penetrates Israel's borders, the police are the designated first responders. Every incident has its own drawer plan, and if, God forbid, a threat does materialize, we will know how to deal with it," he said.

Mega Exercise near Haifa Port

On Wednesday, police and rescue services will respond to a simulated chemical plant explosion near the port in Haifa.

"This is our worst-case scenario, which is why we chose it for this week's drill," Northern Police District spokesman Moshe Weizmann said.

Police and rescue workers will don protective suits as they test their abilities to evacuate the "injured" in record time.

Tel Aviv police will respond to an "attack" from the Mediterranean, while emergency personnel in the coastal city of Ashkelon practice responses to missile and unconventional weapons attacks.

In recent months, Palestinians in Gaza have fired Kassam rockets and longer-range Grad missiles into Ashkelon.

Firefighters will accompany police on all the drills to coordinate their responses to rocket and missile attacks.

In Haifa, the emergency drill includes a newly refurbished underground shelter, designed to house Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedics and their families and coordinate rescue efforts. The idea is that families of MDA workers can be safely housed in the shelter, freeing emergency personnel to do their work.

On Thursday, doctors, nurses and technicians at Emek Medical Center in Afula will treat "casualties" from a simulated chemically armed missile attack.

During this exercise, 300 high school students and soldiers will be transported to the medical center by rescue workers in protective clothing.

Emergency personnel will practice washing off chemicals from the victims in the facilities' parking lot before transporting them into the hospital.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, israel national news

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