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Israel drills earthquakes, missile attacks

Oct. 21, 2012 at 8:05 AM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Israel began two nationwide drills Sunday, one focusing on earthquake preparedness and the other simulating missile attacks on the country, the army said.

The army's Home Front Command kicked off Turning Point 6, a nationwide drill to test the public and responder preparedness for earthquakes, the Israeli army said.

The Home Front Command, the National Emergency Management Authority, regional councils, government ministries, security and rescue organizations, the social services and education system, the health care system as well as public and private bodies will participate in the exercise, which will run until Thursday, the army said.

The army will take over television and radio broadcasts and send out text message to mobile phones alerting the public and issuing instructions what to do in the event of an earthquake, the army said.

Meanwhile, a joint U.S.–Israeli military drill, Austere Challenge 12, began Sunday involving thousands of American and Israeli soldiers in what Israel described as the largest aerial defense drill to ever take place.

At a cost of some $30 million, the drill will simulate aerial threats Israel could face in the event of attacks of rockets, ballistic missiles and drones, Israeli military officials said.

The goal of the exercise, is to "improve interoperability" between the Israeli and American air defense systems, the Israeli army said.

Troops will test the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome missile defense batteries along with advanced Patriot missile batteries that were brought to Israel by U.S. troops.

In addition, U.S. naval ships with Aegis missile-intercepting systems will participate in the drill scheduled to end after the November U.S. presidential election, the army said.

The Israeli army said planning for the joint drill began two years ago and is not related to any specific events in the region. U.S. military personnel will depart Israel at the end of the drill, the army said.

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