Sirens wail, citizens run to shelters as Israel holds preparedness drill


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rocket sirens wailed across Israel as part of an annual nationwide preparedness drill.

The sirens on Tuesday morning also were broadcast on television and radio. Civilians were told to head to their bomb shelters and schoolchildren took cover. A second siren was scheduled for the evening.

Sirens did not sound in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, however, which heard thousands of sirens during last summer’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

The siren drills came on the last day of a three-day national exercise called Turning Point 15, which simulated coordinated attacks from Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, and involved nearly every government ministry and national security force, including the military, police, Homefront Command and fire services. Some exercises will continue through Thursday.

Israel in recent days reportedly sent messages to Iran and Hezbollah to reassure them that the exercise was strictly a drill.

This year’s drill has focused on the ability of the national infrastructure, including electricity, water, gas and computer systems, to withstand an emergency, according to Ynet.

“Adequate preparation is important because planning well will pay off in the end,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the national exercise.

The first Turning Point drill took place in 2007 in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.

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