Exclusive: Israel’s five-day missile defense exercise exposes unready home front

debkafile‘s military sources report that the 19 o’clock warning siren Tuesday, April 3 – day three of the nationwide missile defense exercise – was not heard in many parts of Israel, including the Knesset – as criticism of the exercise spread.
Most people did not know where to find public shelters – none were marked – and were given no answers about protection against chemical or biological missile warfare. While the drill aimed at improving the warning system to gain time for reaching shelters, most Israeli homes and workplaces do not have shelters.
IDF officers told our sources that the drill, organized by deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai, has had two consequences: It exposed the home front as no readier for missile attack than it was when Hizballah launched its rocket blitz in 2006; and, second, it infected the entire region with war fever.
Yet prime minister Ehud Olmert never tires of saying that, since 2006, Israel’s armed forces have restored their deterrent strength and the nation has never been more secure.
If that is so, who needs a nationwide missile defense exercise? And why did the defense cabinet, playing its role in the practice, talk about setting up tent cities [presumably for refugees from blasted or contaminated towns]?
Security experts point out that the evacuation of tens or hundreds of thousands of people from their homes to temporary shelter is a non-starter. Home front officers say that no one has thought of organizing a system to accommodate tent cities: no vehicles to evacuate distressed people, water, electricity, food or medical facilities have been laid on.
And anyway the country is too small for alternative sites to be safe from attack. Would Aviv inhabitants be better off in the Negev under flimsy canvas within range of Gaza?
debkafile‘s military sources agree that the five-day missile exercise is not much better than a charade and far from demonstrating to friend or foe that Israel is better protected now than it was in the summer of 2006. But the question most ask is this: Instead of wasting time, energy and money on a pointless drill, why does the Olmert government not pull itself out of its fatal inertia and finally use the armed forces for its key preventive mission, which is to wipe out the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets piled up on Israel’s borders by Iran and Syria before it is too late? There was more than one opportunity to bombard the convoys carrying weapons for Hizballah from Syria and Hamas’ smuggling routes into Gaza.

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