IDF simulates war with Hezbollah along northern border

A mass evacuation of civilians, and dealing with thousands of Hezbollah rockets including strikes on a hazardous material plant and power plants will be simulated, among other possible war-time events.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Working together for the first time, the Home Front Command and the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) will test new procedures worked out over the past several years to safeguard the country, in a massive drill that will last from Sunday to Thursday.

The residents of northern Israel will hear rocket alert sirens and see heavy military traffic as the country practices for war with Iran-backed Hezbollah forces, which have over 100,000 rockets and missiles of various ranges. A small number of them are precision-guided, even with Israel expending much effort in attacking sites where missile modifications take place, and convoys bringing in the necessary components for such modifications.

The precision-guided munitions “and the effect that they will have on our ability to function” is one major area of concern, according to Home Front commander Brig. Gen. Itzik Bar said in a press briefing. “The second is the rate of fire and Hezbollah’s ability to conduct truly massive rocket barrages at specific geographic areas — I’ll use the phrase ‘demolishing the front line’ — directed fire at the communities near the border.”

Close to the border, some troops will practice evacuating communities that would get almost no warning of missile barrages fired by terrorists based in Lebanon and Syria. Others will drill how to supply food, water and other necessities to those who stay in place in bomb shelters for days at a time.

For the first time ever, the emergency forces will be teaching the residents of the border towns how to deal with attempts to attack them with disorienting drugs or anesthetics. This, due to an intelligence evaluation that if Hezbollah operatives manage to raid one or more villages, they will try to use such materials against soldiers and civilians, possibly to try to kidnap them.

“We will check this out during the exercise, particularly the ability to identify [the substances], with an emphasis on giving clear, focused, life-saving instructions to the civilian population,” NEMA Director Yoram Laredo explained during the briefing.

A little further away, Home Front soldiers dressed in haz-mat suits, will simulate the containment of a hazardous material leak in a Nahariya plant due to an airstrike. Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah has threatened several times over the years to aim for the massive chemical tanks in Haifa. Last year’s blast in the port of Beirut that leveled a good part of the city was caused by the explosion of some 2,750 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate.

The atomic-biological-chemical (ABC) unit will also test its response to a direct chemical weapons attack. In addition, successful physical and cyber-attacks on power plants will be simulated, with electricity going out for up to 72 hours in certain locations.

Hospitals will test their triage and intake abilities on large numbers of casualties, as well as transporting patients to other medical centers in the center of the country in order to make room for those needing immediate care.

Having learned a lesson from the Arab Israeli riots in mixed cities during May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, troops will practice dispersing violent rampages on Sunday.

“The first day of the exercise will be devoted to the Israel Police, to simulate nationalistic-based riots on many fronts. This will be a day in which the Israel Police can clarify what are the challenges facing it in order to better prepare,” Laredo said.

All the emergency services – police, fire and rescue, and Magen David Adom – will be involved in the drills, as will all security services and many government offices.