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June 3, 2009
Israel simulates war in nationwide “doomsday” drill

On Tuesday, sirens blared as Israel conducted a nationwide drill aimed at preparing citizens in the event of missile attacks, suicide bombings and natural disasters.

Although cities in the north and south have traditionally been at the greatest risk of missile attacks, the government is practicing these drills nationwide.

Watch the report from Worldfocus partner The Media Line.

Blogger “mimi54” describes the drill, writing that some ignored it:

It’s a very loud, urgent, scary wail. When it resounds across the country to remind us of our dead, it does sound like crying. I suppose it’s because we ourselves are weeping then. But in a real emergency, when adrenelin [sic] is pouring through the blood and our hearts are jumping, it sounds like a wavering howl. I wonder how many ignored it today and just got on with whatever they were doing, and how many complied with the Home Front’s orders. 

At the clinic, I saw signs with arrows pointing to the safe areas. Banks, supermarkets – big, organized places – and certainly schools, complied. However many individuals that I talked to today took a cynical view of the drill. My friend in the second-hand store told me that it’s just the government’s way of covering its back: “They don’t help in emergencies. They’re just doing this so they can say ‘We gave instructions and did our bit.’ ” (I don’t agree; the government does protect the population as far as possible in war.) “Anyway,” he added, “I’m not going to close shop and go to the shelter just for a drill. Who wants to look like a fool on the street?”

Watch a video of the drill as experienced by YouTube user bspier1, showing many people who were unconcerned:

A blogger at “From the hills of Jerusalem” echoes the sentiment, writing that after so many real attacks, it is hard to take simulations seriously: 

This wasn’t a crisis, of course, it was just a drill. But it was a drill that reminded us that we’ve been through many drills – real ones. The residents of Sderot, and towns along the southern borders, as well as those in the north, have already had many and constant real life exercises to practice. I have had my own runs for shelter when in some of those towns. Sometimes a safe room was available, sometimes we stood under a doorway…like in an earthquake. You do your best.

Today, no one moved. We just continued on with whatever we were doing. […]It’s not that we are really nonchalant or lackadaisical….it’s just…well, alright already, we know the big one is coming…nuke, earthquake, bolts from heaven…. It’s Israel – our minds are already stretched as far as they can go in the survival mode. 

A blogger at “A Soldier’s Mother” explains why she warned her daughter of the drill in advance:

For some reason, perhaps to add to a feeling of urgency, the school decided not to explain to my 9-year-old daughter in advance that this would be an exercise. During the war, a siren was accidentally sounded in our city and the children were quickly moved to bomb shelters, fearing it was a real attack. There was no warning (as we have now) and therefore no chance to prepare the kids. All that mattered was a frantic but orderly move to bomb shelters in case our city, so far from Gaza, would somehow also be hit by missiles.

There was no time to find out if it was a mistake, human error. Later, they would confirm at attack on Beersheva and a mistake made. But at that moment, it was as real as if we too lived within seconds of Gaza.

I didn’t want my daughter to go through that again and so I told her, secretly, that when she heard the siren, she should listen to the teachers, but not be afraid. Every child has the right to live without fear, including that sudden panic that comes with hearing a siren and knowing you have to run quickly to seek shelter.

User “Traxus” comments on the “World Affairs Board,” addressing concerns that Israel may be preparing for war with Iran: 

Posturing and preparing… the lines are so blurred. This is definitely a posturing move though, at least in part. They are being quite vocal in preparing for war, I’m sure this is a message more aimed at the US and Europe rather than Iran.

Would Israel put so much effort into this if they had no intention of attacking Iran? Hard to say. This is also a PR move for Israeli citizens. Gets them used to the idea of being at war with Iran, makes the idea a lot more comfortable especially if these drills have a positive result.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Nahariense under a Creative Commons license.

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re: Youtube video “Israelis Run to Bomb Shelter During Drill”

Please, please, take these drills seriously.


Thanks for the mention. I disagree with the photo however – that could be a street in the Old City of Jerusalem at any time, or in Safed or any other Mediterranean cobblestoned street. From what I’ve heard people saying, most people ignored the drill and just went about their business.

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