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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Our farcical drill for unconventional war

This afternoon at precisely 2:00 air raid sirens went off here in Jerusalem. It was the beginning of a drill that is supposed to prepare the IDF and the country for an unconventional (read nuclear, biological or chemical) attack against the country:
The IDF began on Tuesday staging its largest civil defense exercise ever, simulating unconventional and rocket attacks in an operation meant to demonstrate lessons security and rescue forces learned from last summer's war with Hizbullah.

In the two-day operation, which will involve thousands of police and soldiers, security forces and emergency crews were to respond to simulated attacks on seven different locations, including a chemical attack on a school and a rocket strike on a Tel Aviv power station. Later Tuesday, an emergency siren was to sound throughout central Israel as part of the exercise.

"We are demonstrating through such an exercise the lessons we learned in the past war," OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Gershon told reporters.
But DEBKAfile notes that the country has not implemented any lessons it might have learned in last summer's war:
As for defenses against unconventional terrorist attacks or a missile blitz, supposedly drilled Tuesday and Wednesday, the government is sorely derelict – even to the old, nagging problem of providing protected areas for the schoolchildren of Sderot and its neighbors against Palestine missiles attacks, which have never stopped in six years.

Five Qassam missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip, Sunday, March 18, the day the Palestinian unity government was installed

The population of northern Israel is no better protected for the next war than they were for the last, despite the promises the prime minister, defense minister and other cabinet members scattered right and left.

A direct missile hit against a three-storey building Netanya, with sound effects provided by sirens and speeding ambulances. It is meaningless in the context of an unprotected populace under coordinated missile attacks from its northern, central and southern borders.
I can point to two interesting facts about this drill to show you all how ill-prepared the country is for the war that is likely to start within the next two months. First, no one is being sent to shelters as part of this drill because everyone knows that we don't have enough shelters. Second, since the 1991 Gulf War, all Israelis were issued gas masks that we were to use in case of unconventional attacks. The gas masks needed to be refreshed every year or two and whenever they were opened. In 2003, the government told us all to open our gas masks and try them on in the run-up to the American invasion of Iraq (how soon we forget that people here really feared Saddam would attack us!). The government has not refreshed the gas masks since.

So today's drill is simply a distraction to get us to ignore Olmert, Peretz and Livni fiddling for a while. The truth is that the country is not prepared for any kind of war, and the government is too busy trying to maintain its hold on power to give a damn.


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