The IDF’s Home Front Command successfully carried out a major evacuation exercise in northern Israel last week, simulating a scenario in which the majority of the Israeli towns and villages along the border with Lebanon have to be evacuated within hours due to Hezbollah firing hundreds of missiles.
The exercise, named “Safe Distance,” was carried out to test the forces’ preparedness for an “irregular, large-scale emergency.”
The Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue Unit entered Israeli communities along the border and practiced bringing civilians to safety. Part of the force simulated the evacuation of families, children, and elderly people, while another rushed injured people in ambulances to the nearest hospital.
Colonel Dr. Eyal Furman, medical commander in the Home Front Command, explained that “there are a lot of medical efforts in exercises like this, and this is the biggest one we had so far. It’s challenging to find the right medical solutions for different populations in real time, but that’s what we’re here for.”
While Israel’s border with Lebanon has remained mostly quiet since the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, the IDF remains on alert.
Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese terror organization, maintains its primary focus on attacking Israel, even while it is currently embroiled in the Syrian Civil War and siding with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the Syrian rebel groups.
The terror organization has been stockpiling long-range missiles and an advanced arsenal of weapons, and the organization’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, continuously threatens Israel and its civilians.
In a speech made earlier this year, Nasrallah, claimed that “several missiles launched from [southern Lebanon] together with the ammonia containers in Haifa would lead to the same impact as a nuclear bomb.”
The IDF stated, “Our forces invest in preparing the home front for any future conflict and any threat. Exercises like Safe Distance ensure that Israeli civilians will be ready and safe in the event of an emergency, allowing ground forces to work effectively.”
1,500 Rockets a Day
Israel is preparing for a scenario in which it will be targeted by many thousands of missiles and rockets, with an average of 1,500 a day.
According to IDF’s estimate, such a war could include attacks by Islamic terror groups from the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Syrian and Iranian militaries. In such a scenario, most of Israel’s population would be under direct threat from rocket and missile fire.
More than 230,000 rockets and missiles could be directed at Israel, covering the country from the Haifa area in the north to the southern coast, leaving most of the population vulnerable.
While only 1% of rockets and missiles fired are expected to cause damage in populated areas, and hundreds of civilian casualties could result from the attacks.
The Home Front Command will hold its annual country-wide emergency exercises. Beginning Sunday and continuing through Wednesday, this year’s exercises will include emergency drill in schools and nation-wide siren drills on Tuesday.
Residents are advised to plan a path to the nearest safe-room or bomb shelter as part of the exercise.