Israel Preparing Each Year for 'the Next War'

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HAIFA, Israel -- Thousands of missiles and rockets are aimed at Israel from almost all sides of the country, which means every Israeli citizen must prepare for life on the frontlines.

In the summer of 2006, some 4,000 Hezbollah rockets rain down on northern Israel.

Professor Rafael Beyar leads Haifa's Rambam Hospital, the largest in northern Israel.

"We understood from that war that this hospital has to have [a] safe place where you can treat patients if another conflict happens here," he said.

Recently, CBN News saw firsthand how leaders are planning for the next war.

"This is a sheltered hospital and is built here for conventional and unconventional weapon," Dr. Hany Bahouth said, giving a tour of the facility.

The parking lot holds 1,500 cars, but if war breaks out it can be converted into a 2,000 bed underground hospital in just 72 hours.

Miles of oxygen tubes, electric lines, water pipes and medical equipment run inside the walls.

"To convert from a parking lot to a hospital, yes it sounds very strange, but if this is the way to protect the patient and the staff here, let it be," Bahouth said.

United States Army Col. John McManus ran Army hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's probably the first ever and it's probably the largest underground facility - that we're allowed to mention you know - in the world," he said.

But what about the rest of the country?

Former head of Israel's home front command, Dr. Chilik Soffer, stressed the need for water, electricity, and food production to be ready for times of emergency.

He said the 2006 war provided the catalyst for developing a multi-lingual, public information campaign.

"The readiness of the population is part of the resilience and is part of the ability of the country to deal to cope with the war scenario," Soffer explained.

Twenty years ago, the 1991 Gulf War prompted other changes.

According to Israeli law, every new home or apartment built today must have its own bomb shelter. It looks like a normal room but has thick walls and a steel door.

In southern Israel, where terrorists regularly launch rockets from the Gaza strip, even bus stops and playgrounds are reinforced bomb shelters.

While Soffer can't say Israel's population is 100 percent ready for war, he added that each year the country takes another step forward.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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