IDF, United Hatzalah and MDA emergency crews were dispatched to an alleged terrorist attack with seriously wounded victims, in the town of Maaleh Shomron on Thursday afternoon.
Military, emergency and medical crews scoured the area looking for the wounded and source of the attack for 20 minutes.
After not finding anyone or anything wrong, they were then notified by Bezeq that Bezeq had just performed an internal emergency drill where one of their employees pressed the panic button and called in a terror attack with seriously wounded.
Unfortunately, none of the emergency forces responding at the time were notified in advance or during the call that it was only a drill and their services weren’t actually needed.
Ever have a thought or concept that instantly summarizes itself in your brain in one word? That just happened to me moments ago, and the thought was – eerie. Yesterday, people all over Israel practiced what it would be like if we were suddenly hit with a massive missile barrage.
A couple of times, an air raid siren sounded. I was at a conference at a hotel – the Jerusalem Ramada Renaissance Hotel at a conference…I’ve helped organize two conferences there over the last two years and, to be honest, I’m very upset because when we tried to organize a third one – they hit us with a 25% increase in cost. That bothered me today as I went there for another conference and so I found myself being overly critical about the long lines for the bathroom and the food. Overall, a really nice hotel – not nice to hit us with such a large increase in one year (so, if you have recommendations for other hotels, please add them in a comment below).
In the morning, they announced the siren exercise, which would clearly disrupt the conference, and then announced, “the Ramada doesn’t do drills” – so if there was a siren – it wasn’t heard and no one did anything. I left the conference a bit early with a headache and came home and I’ve been on the phone for a good portion of that time.
The last call was with a family friend (and our insurance broker) who lives about an hour away – closer to Tel Aviv. As we were talking – I heard the siren – there was a split second of hesitation but immediately, I remembered the exercise and explained to our friend that this is what was happening. Seconds later, he said, “yes, by me too.”
And so I listened to what was supposed to symbolize a massive missile attack – sirens wailing all over Israel. I didn’t go to my bomb shelter, nor did our friend. But there was this eerie feeling hearing the echo of the siren coming through the phone, hearing it here in my neighborhood.
It wasn’t long ago that the siren sounded here and it was real. I saw two children in the distance hesitate – and then continue on their way to home.
We were not attacked by Iranian missiles; nor by Syria. Lebanon’s Hezbollah didn’t unleash some of their 40,000+ arsenal of rockets and Gaza didn’t fire either. That’s a lot of places from which to expect attacks for such a small country.
Meanwhile, as Syria crumbles and Iran and the Hizballah seem to step up their interference… Israelis who have not yet updated their gas masks are rushing to do so. We have ours in the living room under the small table…
Eerie – yes, that’s the word. Eerie.
From yesterday morning:
This is kind of a silly video because no one reacts…than again – what were they expected to do? It was not an enforced event, it wasn’t real and certainly, unlike Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day, traffic was not expected to stop. In any event, I’m posting it because what it does is give you the sound and length of the experience.
The first of two sirens went off in Israel at 12:30PM, as the country performs a nationwide drill. Residents are expected to go to their safe rooms for 10 minutes.
There will be a second siren alarm later in the day.
A five-day national earthquake preparedness drill, codenamed Turning Point 6, was conducted in Israel earlier this week – and the post-drill conclusions were not reassuring to the country’s citizens.
The cause of this consternation that could cost thousands of Israeli lives in the aftermath of a major earthquake is the stifling Israeli government bureaucracy and a lack of coordination between the IDF, police and emergency services. The drill exposed several fault lines among other various government and security agencies that have been charged with saving lives and keeping the country functioning in the hours and days following a major natural disaster.
Israel sits directly along the Syrian-African rift, a natural geological anomaly that sparks minor earthquakes on a regular basis across major portions of the Middle East. Scientists say that a major earthquake is expected to hit Israel at least once every 100 years. It is feared that a quake exceeding 6.0 on the Richter scale would cause major damage and kill or maim many people.
Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that the aforementioned coordination gap between the relevant state institutions has been acknowledged by military and government sources. To compensate for these shortcomings, it is believed that the highly praised IDF Home Front Command earthquake unit would need to rely on significant assistance from other Western nations in order to deal with a large-scale natural disaster.
An IDF Home Front Command report has estimated that a major earthquake would cause thousands of deaths and injuries to citizens residing within the metropolitan Tel Aviv region due to the poorly constructed apartment buildings erected prior to 1990. After Iraqi missiles damaged old buildings in that area during the 1990-91 First Gulf War, Israel’s government began requiring construction companies to use special earthquake proof materials in newly built apartment buildings and private home structures.
Israeli scientists have also said that a major earthquake could spark a Mediterranean tsunami wave that would hit portions of the Tel Aviv, Netanya and Haifa coastlines. This would cause the luxury apartment buildings and hotels that are located near the beaches to either collapse or suffer severe water damage.
There’s a superstitious thought that when you invite tragedy, it happily walks through the door. A second, more pragmatic view, is that when you prepare for it, you are better able to cope. Israel takes the second view as today we once again take part in the Turning Point 6 nation-wide exercise preparing us not only for earthquakes, but several other disasters.
According to INN, yesterday’s drill included:
The IDF rehearsed an emergency scenario in which an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale takes place in Eilat at 11:00 a.m. and a second, even stronger quake, subsequently hits northern Israel.
According to the scenario, MDA then receives reports of thousands of buildings collapsing throughout Israel, damage to hospitals, power outages and more.
In addition, the drill included a tsunami wave, a school in ruins, a mass casualty situation on Nahariya’s train station, a crash landing of a jet plane in Eilat, building collapses at Hebrew University and two prisons, a train wreck and more.
The drill had MDA emergency crews treating 2,600 “casualties” throughout Israel, 1,800 of them in moderate to serious condition.
Over two THOUSAND casualties…take a look at this video – it is, in every sense, a real exercise. Yes, there are subtle differences – the soldiers are not running around – many are standing and watching. In a real tragedy, they would likely all be in movement, trying to help where the could. Another difference, the “wounded” soldier on the stretcher was smiling and talking to the other soldiers as they carry him away. These are the faces that calm us as we watch – let them smile. Let them laugh. Please, let it never be real.
On Sunday, Israel will be running a countrywide drill to test its preparation in case of a massive earthquake and tsunami. Thousands of emergency personnel, citizens, and even schools will be participating. Announcements will be made on TV and radio as part of the simulation.
Some local towns will be continuing with the drill throughout the week on a smaller scale to test specific preparations.
On Friday morning, tremors were felt in Israel from a 5.0 earthquake that originated north of Alexandria, Egypt. Nothing like a little realism to set the tone for the simulation.