IDF drill - Alon Ron - June 22, 2011
IDF soldiers during civil defense drill, June 22, 2011. Photo by Alon Ron
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Though many residents ignored yesterday's sirens simulating a missile attack and failed to take shelter in protected areas, those running the Turning Point 5 civil defense exercise declared the drill a success.

"We achieved our main goals in that there's awareness that an extreme scenario like this could occur," said Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai. "After the first real explosion, all the apathetic ones will zoom to the nearest protected area."

Some 3,000 sirens went off at 11 A.M. and 7 P.M. with very few hitches. In Be'er Sheva, the morning siren sounded twice due to a malfunction that was quickly fixed.

The Home Front Command will conduct a survey in the coming days to determine the level of response to the sirens. In 2010, 47 percent of residents entered a protected space and officials believe the rate will be slightly higher this year, citing "a cumulative effect that will be achieved primarily by education."

"When a child comes home from school after the drill there, his parent can't tell him that the siren in the evening isn't important," said Home Front Command commander Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg.

Aside from the sirens, dozens of other drills were conducted, including the falling of a missile with an unconventional warhead in Rishon Letzion, which included the intake of wounded at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin, and a cyber attack on the Orot Rabin power plant in Hadera that disrupted the nation's electricity supply.

Parallel to the civil defense drill, a drill is being conducted of the country's air defenses.

To some degree, the air defense drill is integrated with the civilian one, as the air force practices warning the Home Front Command about expected missile falls so that residents can be sent to shelters. Soldiers from both forces sit in each other's command and control rooms to facilitate efficient communications.

In addition, the air defense drill involves deploying the Arrow and the Iron Dome anti-missile systems as if to shoot down incoming missiles.