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Israel ‘The Most Threatened State in the World,’ Says PM

Source: The Times of Israel, Friday May 31st 2013

Concluding a three-day nationwide defense drill, Netanyahu warns of ‘tens of thousands of missiles and rockets’ aimed at civilians

Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Flash 90Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting of the Emergency Economy Committee on May 13, 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Flash 90)

Facing the threat of thousands of enemy rockets, Israel’s home front is more vulnerable than ever, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at a meeting concluding this week’s home front drill, which tested the country’s readiness for chemical and conventional rocket attacks.

“We are deep in the era of missiles that are aimed at civilian population areas,” Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Emergency Economy Committee. “We must prepare defensively and offensively for the new era of warfare. The State of Israel is the most threatened state in the world. Around us are tens of thousands of missiles and rockets that could hit our home front.”

Netanyahu said that November’s Operation Pillar of Defense, during which Hamas terrorists fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza at Israeli civilian areas, was a small example of the change in the nature of the threats Israel faces.

In addition to training the military and emergency services, the weeklong exercise also sought to prepare the civilian population. Air raid sirens sounded twice, drilling the civilian population in finding shelter at home, work and school.

The prime minister explained that maintaining high public morale was a key element of national security.

“Defensive preparations, first of all, mean preparing the spirit of the nation to be steadfast in order to allow the military to strike the enemy that wants to destroy us,” Netanyahu said. “It is important to maintain functional continuity in the home front that is under fire. The Israeli home front is more accessible to the enemy than it has been.

“Defense demands many resources and this requires a change in our national priorities, including legislative changes,” Netanyahu added in an apparent reference to ongoing political turmoil surrounding a universal draft law that would induct ultra-Orthodox youth into the army.

“It is the responsibility of government ministries to work together and see to it that the vital enterprises under their purview continue to operate even in emergencies in order to create functional continuity in time of emergency,” said Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan.