Home Front Command drill
Home Front Command drill in Tel Aviv Photo by Alon Ron
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The Home Front Command has decided to shorten the warning time for Tel Aviv and Gush Dan residents against incoming missiles from two minutes to 90 seconds. The move comes largely due to Hezbollah and Hamas' improved missile launching capabilities.

In the past, The Israel Defense Forces were able to use sensors that would detect any incoming fire and missiles as well as the direction they were coming from.

The sensors would trigger a siren, giving Tel Aviv and Gush Dan residents a two-minute grace period to find shelter. After taking cover they were required to wait ten minutes until an additional siren was sounded, signifying the end of the threat.

However now, Hamas and Hezbollah can launch longer range missiles with heightened precision. They possess more missiles than ever before, concealed in buildings and underground bunkers.

This has prompted not only the 25 percent reduction in warning time, but also a modification of emergency Home Front Command protocol.

This protocol will be passed on to each municipality, with a guidebook detailing the number of missiles that could hit the district as well as the level of damage and number of injured each municipality would potentially have to deal with.

The Home Front Command will also be distributing guidebooks to local emergency forces; the police, firefighters and Magen David Adom, to prepare for the event of war.

According to security assessments, Israel will not have an effective deterrent for medium-range missiles, the type that Hezbollah and Hamas will most likely use on central Israel, until 2013.

It is therefore the hope that the Magic Wand defense system will be operational in the near future. Two weeks ago, security forces tested the missile interception device, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for the first time.

Iron Dome, which is meant to intercept shorter range missiles of up to 70 kilometers, was supposed to be ready for use by the end of 2010, however, due to some technical difficulties this is yet to happen.

According to an assessment by a top air force official, Iron Dome should be operational in the next few weeks. The first stage will involve the use of two Iron Dome batteries. It is unclear when there will be funding to acquire additional batteries.

The air force has instructed that Israel will need to acquire 13 to 15 more batteries for Iron Dome if they wish to be effectively protected from short range missiles.