JERUSALEM, Israel - An emergency drill in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open air market on Sunday brought back memories of past terror attacks to area residents and shop keepers watching the exercise.
Magen David Adom (Israel's national emergency rescue service) paramedics and emergency medical technicians, border and municipal police, firefighters and municipality workers participated in the first responders drill.
Emergency crews treated "wounded" rubber dummies and live "victims" of a simulated terror attack, as smoke from the "explosion" swirled around them.
Police units searched for bombs and then practiced the delicate procedures for neutralizing them.
"This is a full-scale drill designed to integrate all of the city's response teams and get them ready for the [high] holiday season," Jerusalem Police chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco told reporters.
"We're practicing the evacuation and treatment of more than 20 victims, with a large number of security and medical forces on the scene," the police chief said.
"We have to be prepared for everything, but hopefully we will only have to do this as a drill," he said.
Jewish holidays have often been a prime time for terror attacks, especially in places where families congregate, such as the shuk (open air market), parks and recreational facilities, bus and train stations, hotels, malls and restaurants.
This year, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, falls on Friday evening, September 18. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) begins at sunset on September 27 and Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, starts on Friday evening, October 2.
Israel generally beefs up security before, during and after the Jewish holidays.
During the second intifada from 2000 to 2004, Palestinian suicide bombers frequently attacked the Mahane Yehuda market, where many of the city's residents shop for fresh produce, baked goods, and a variety of other products at generally lower prices than the supermarkets.
Source: The Jerusalem Post