Israel Prepares for Nationwide Drill

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JERUSALEM, Israel - The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command in concert with the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) will hold a weeklong nationwide emergency preparedness drill the last week in May.

This year's exercise, dubbed Turning Point 4, will focus on emergency response to massive rocket attacks throughout the country.

"After the Second Lebanon War, we concluded that the ultimate responsibility rests with the local authorities," Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i told reporters during a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

IDF Home Front Command head Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said 68 local authorities would take part in simulated responses to rocket bombardment.

During the exercise, the Home Front Command will distribute gas masks in eight cities in preparation for a future scenario requiring rapid distribution.

On Wednesday, May 26, the third day of the drill, Israelis countrywide will be  asked to enter bomb shelters and safe rooms when the air raid siren sounds.

According to NEMA chief Ze'ev Zuk Ram, this year's drill will help shore up coordination between government ministries and local authorities.

Part of the exercise addresses keeping electricity, water and other basic infrastructure functioning during a full-scale rocket bombardment on cities and towns throughout the country.

Such a scenario is increasingly possible with Hezbollah's estimated 40,000 rocket cache and Syria's buildup of conventional and nonconventional warheads on long-range missiles provided by Iran.

Hamas has also been resupplied with rockets vis-a-vis the smuggling tunnels under the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.

Over the weekend, Russia announced it will sell warplanes, artillery systems and anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. 

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The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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