IDF drill - Bar-On - Nov. 3, 2011
IDF troops simulate rocket attack, November 3, 2011. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Sirens sounded throughout central Israel on Thursday as part of a Home Front Command drill simulating a rocket attack on civilian infrastructure. The drill comes against the backdrop of a fiery debate in Israel about a possible attack on Iran.

As part of Thursday's Israel Defense Forces drill, sirens went off around central Israel at 10:05 A.M for 90 seconds. Moreover, evacuation and absorption centers were opened in the central Israeli city of Holon and temporary centers in Holon and Bat Yam opened in order to hand out gas masks.

The Home Front Command stressed that the drill is part of a yearly exercise which has been long-planned.

On Wednesday, the IDF test-fired a ballistic missile at the Palmahim base in central Israel. The test was part of an examination of a new missile currently being developed by the defense establishment.

A Defense Ministry official declined to comment on the type of rocket tested, but it is known it was capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The launch coincided with mounting speculation in Israel that its leaders could be preparing a military attack on Iran to curb a nuclear program they say is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Moreover, Haaretz reported on Wednesday that the Israel Air Force recently conducted comprehensive drills on long-range attacks at the NATO base in Italy.

The drill included most of the aviation components that are likely to take part in future long-range attacking missions: combat squadrons, aerial refueling and air monitoring stations.

Normally, long-range drills last two weeks, but the IAF left this drill after five days, and by the weekend all the IAF planes had returned to their air bases in Israel.

The IAF's early departure ignited the spreading of conspiracy theories which suggested Israel was heading into a possible mission, but according to a senior IAF official, the departure was not sudden and spontaneous, rather a short visit planned from the start, due to time constraints of the Italian and Israeli air forces.

קראו כתבו זו בעברית: רק תרגיל: ב10:05 תישמע אזעקה במרכז