The Israeli army’s Home Front Command together with the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) on Sunday began a five-day training exercise along the country’s northern border, to simulate responses to war scenarios and improve the readiness of emergency bodies.

The exercise, dubbed “national home front,” will include simulations of the effects of thousands of rockets fired during a potential conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group. The war-like drill will implement the lessons learned from Operation Guardian of the Walls, the hostilities that took place between Israel and the Hamas terror group in May, as well as previous conflicts along the northern border.

“This is an unprecedented exercise,” said NEMA’s Director Yoram Laredo, “This is the first time we have conducted an exercise of this magnitude, in full cooperation between us and the military.”

The full-scale drill will bring together emergency bodies from the Israeli police to Magen David Adom and the fire brigade, to prepare responses to multi-arena war scenarios — including missile precision weapons, barrages of rocket fire, targeted shooting at nearby communities along the northern fence and an overload on hospitals in the north and the center of the country. Local government authorities and security forces will also take part in the exercise.

For the first time, a special logistics battalion created for the drill will be activated to support civilian spaces and the civilian population. A new alert system for residents of northern Israel and those communities along the border fence will also be tried, with some alerts testing the effectiveness of changes to the warning time frame.

Unlike in May, when Israel fought Hamas, the drill will simulate a conflict in Lebanon and Syria with the far more powerful Hezbollah, a terrorist army with well over 100,000 rockets and missiles of different ranges, as well as a smaller but still significant quantity of precision-guided missiles, which have emerged as a potentially major issue for Israel. Some military officials have assessed it to be the second most serious threat facing the country, after only an Iranian nuclear weapon.

One of the simulations this week will imagine a missile strike on an industrial plant leading to an outbreak of toxic or hazardous substances in the region. As part of the exercise, the Home Front Command will work with all the emergency bodies to block the leak and evacuate the casualties. The IDF Front Command is also planning to simulate responses to chemical weapons attacks.

Another exercise will simulate the effects of a massive barrage of rocket fire and and the need to evacuate communities along the northern border. For the first time, hospitals in northern Israel will practice a state of emergency, during which they will have to deal with a large number of injuries.
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