By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Senior Middle East Correspondent
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (BosNewsLife) — Israel says it will hold the largest military exercise in its history, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Jewish state may have to prepare for war with Iran and other rogue states.
Netanyahu declared dealing with Iran’s threats “a top priority” of his administration within a week of taking office. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has triggered outrage in the West by saying that Israel should be “wiped off the map”, although he denies Iran is a threat.
Israel’s government disagrees. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) confirmed that it will be preparing to hold “the largest exercise ever” in Israeli history to prepare the nation for the possibility of war breaking out. The exercise is scheduled to take place in roughly two months, BosNewsLife learned.
The head of Israel’s Department for Population at the Home Front Command, Col. Hilik Sofer, told Israeli daily Ha’aretz that “we need to train for a reality in which, during war, missiles can fall on any part of the country without warning.”
The aim of the nationwide exercise “is to transform the population from a passive to an active one. We want the citizens to understand that war can happen tomorrow morning,” Sofer added.
The drills are expected to last an entire week and prepare the nation for a series of scenarios that include missile strikes with conventional and non-conventional warheads, fired by militant group Hezbollah, Syria or Hamas, military officials said.
The reaction time to prepare for impact of a rocket attack in Israel is roughly two minutes or less. The Home Front Command and IDF said they want drills to encourage people to prepare for the possibility of war.
MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM
Israel’s military said however it is prepared for possible attack and said the Israeli Air Force “successfully” conducted the 17th test of its newly upgraded Arrow 2 missile system capable of intercepting Iranian missiles.
The newly tested system employed advanced radars, including the newly acquired X-Band radar deployed in the Negev Desert in 2008 by the United States, BosNewsLife established.
The test was conducted in joint cooperation with the IAF, and the United States Missile Defense Agency, officials said. (BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).