Tourism Tip #245 / The Home Front Drill on Monday

It's just a drill, but be prepared: Sirens sounded at 12:30 P.M. and will be sound again at 7:05 P.M. When in Rome, they say, follow suit - so here, follow the example of the Israelis around you.

The Home Front Command is holding a nationwide drill on Monday, testing the reaction to heavy missile attacks from multiple origins, namely Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. The drill involves preparing for the arrival of unconventional warheads, for instance missiles bearing noxious chemicals.

What you as tourists need to know is that as part of this drill, sirens were to sound nationwide twice on Monday: at 12:30 P.M. (just after noon) and at 7:05 P.M.

At the same times, the Home Front Command will send warnings to civilians' cellphones. Radio and television stations will also be broadcasting the sirens. The deaf will receive notice of the drills via beepers.

Upon hearing the sirens, all Israelis are instructed to drop whatever they're doing and going to shelters, where they should stay for 10 minutes. Note that in the first instance, at mid-day, most Israelis are at work and will drill for "missile attack" when at work; in the second instance most are at home and should prepare for their response to an attack with the family.

The sirens scheduled for Monday will last about 1.5 minutes, except in areas near the Gaza Strip where the warning time is shorter and therefore the siren will not sound for as long.

In most cases the sirens make a rising and falling sound and in certain areas the sirens are accompanied by the repeating words "Tzeva adom" – "red alert."

In the unfortunate coincidence of actual missile attack at those times on Monday, sirens will sound again – the exact same sounds – and all media outlets will broadcast the news.

Note that the full drill lasts from Monday to Wednesday, but the missile-attack drills are concentrated at those two times on Monday.

All relevant branches of government will be taking part, as will all schools, where the children will be practicing a rapid, orderly descent to shelters.

You are not required by law to partake in the drill. Officially, when the siren sounds, Israelis are supposed to follow the instructions and take shelter. Tourists: You're advised to follow the example of the Israelis around you.

Above all, remember not to panic. This is a drill, and its goal is to keep you safe.

Nir Kafri