IDF Refines Rocket Siren System – but Gives Tel Avivians Only One Minute to Seek Shelter

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People take cover inside their building staircase during an air raid siren warning of a rocket attack in Tel Aviv, July 12, 2014.
People take cover inside their building staircase during an air raid siren warning of a rocket attack in Tel Aviv, July 12, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Tel Aviv residents will have only one minute – down from the current 90 seconds – to get to a shelter or security room after hearing an air raid siren, according to a map of the country showing warning times for residents in different areas that is being drawn up by the Israel Defense Forces.

The country is currently divided into 258 areas, but between now and 2018 the IDF intends to refine the map, expanding the number of areas to 3,000, making the warning time in any given area more precise if rockets are fired at the country. This will also reduce the area where people would be required to seek shelter.

“This will contribute to [the country’s] resilience, to economic continuity and to reducing fear,” a Home Front Command official noted in the past. The new, more precise zones will distinguish among neighborhoods and areas of a city, army bases and strategic sites, meaning that sirens will only sound in the areas at which rockets are aimed.

As part of the plan, the Home Front Command intends to shorten the advance warning time that Tel Aviv residents have to seek shelter when they hear a siren. Currently residents of the area are instructed that they have a minute and a half, but with the revision of the zones for the entire country, Tel Aviv will be placed in the zone where the warning time is limited to one minute.

The longer a rocket is in flight, the greater the Home Front Command’s capacity to refine and reduce the projected area where it would be expected to fall. Scenarios developed by the Home Front Command in the event of a war in the north or the Gaza Strip project 1,500 rockets a day being fired at the country on average. The command’s estimate provides for thousands of rockets falling in built-up areas, including dozens in Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, the Home Front Command believes that about 95 percent of these rockets would be of a relatively short-range type of up to 45 kilometers (about 28 miles) with warheads of up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of explosives.

An analysis carried out by the command projected that there would be only 10 direct hits on structures out of 1,000 rockets fired, thanks in part to interceptions by the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries.

Next week, the Home Front Command will carry out a drill across the country simulating an all-out war in which there is massive missile fire at Israel’s urban areas. The command will also rehearse scenarios involving infiltrations into Israeli territory by air and sea, along with the collapse of electricity and communication networks and the leak of classified materials.

As part of the drill, on Tuesday, sirens will sound twice around the country in the morning and evening. In the north, Golan Heights and Upper Galilee, there will be a siren at 11:05 A.M. Two minutes later, sirens will be heard in the Haifa area, Lower Galilee, Krayot Haifa suburbs, Jezreel Valley and the Wadi Ara region. At 11:09 A.M. a siren will sound in the center of the country, including the Sharon region, Tel Aviv and its immediate suburbs, and Emek Hefer area. At 11:11 A.M., sirens will sound in the Jerusalem area, West Bank, Dead Sea region and Beit Shemesh. Two minutes afterward, there will be a siren in Gazan-border communities, followed at 11:15 by sirens in the south, Lachish region and Arava.

In the evening, sirens will sound across the country at 7:05 P.M., except in Gazan-border communities.

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