Israel launched extensive nationwide drill
Israel started on Sunday a five- day civil defense exercise, simulating an attack on the Jewish state, local daily Ha'aretz reported.
The drill, named Turning Point 3, will be the most extensive one ever held, and will practice new measures to safeguard civilians, said the report, adding that on Tuesday, the exercise will spread nationwide and include emergency sirens and air-raid shelters.
The Israeli cabinet held a special session on Sunday on moves during an attack. The ministries will then open their emergency headquarters to rehearse various scenarios.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers during the briefing that the drill was a "routine" procedure and not directed against any regional entity in particular.
"This is a routine action intended to prepare the Home Front for emergency and has nothing to do with intelligence information of any kind," he was quoted as saying.
"We are required to defend Israel, its cities, various installations, from the possibility of attacks by missiles, rockets or other weapons," said the prime minister.
"I think the fact that Israel is preparing more from exercise to exercise and is capable of better protecting its citizens decreases the chance that we'll have to use these tools."
A special emergency economic committee headed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was to convene after the cabinet session, said Ha'aretz, adding that the ministries' directors- general and other officials will discuss maintaining civilian life under attack.
On Monday, the government's emergency headquarters will discuss coordination measures. On Tuesday morning, after a siren goes off nationwide, the public will be asked to enter protected spaces and shelters at home, work and schools.
Tuesday and Wednesday will see various scenarios exercised in a number of municipalities.
On Thursday, the police will practice rescuing people trapped in high-rise buildings.
Some 70 foreign officials and military representatives from countries including the United States, Turkey, Japan, France and Germany are expected to observe the drill, said Ha'aretz, adding that Israeli defense authorities will then hold a symposium with the foreign delegates.
Last week, Barak told Israel Army Radio that the drill is a " routine" procedure. Some observers see this as an attempt to relieve concerns in Arab countries that Israel may use the drill to mask preparations to attack.