The Day In Israel: Sunday May 23rd, 2010

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Israel’s largest ever home front exercise is set to begin this morning as part of the emergency authorities’ preparation for a number of possible scenarios, including an electronic attack against the country.

The drill, code-named Turning Point 4, will simulate the firing of hundreds of missiles from different fronts.

Similar, smaller-sized drills were conducted in 2009 and 2008.

The security establishment stressed that the exercise was scheduled in advance as part of a yearly work plan.

The National Emergency Management Authority, Israel Police, Magen David Adom, the Israeli fire department, government offices and municipalities are expected to take an active role in the exercise.

According to defense officials, the emphasis of this year’s exercise will be on the response of local authorities to a military emergency. Drills will be held in 68 cities and towns that are home to about 70 percent of Israel’s population.

“These types of exercises will not only reduce the number of Israeli casualties in the next conflict, they may determine the conflict’s outcome,” a senior defense official told Ynet on Saturday.

At 11 am Wednesday sirens will sound across the country, at which time all residents are to go to bomb shelters or other protected spaces. Drills will be held in schools, as well.

During the exercise emergency units and municipalities will also simulate the derailing of a train in Hadera, a rocket attack on the Haifa area, an incident involving hazardous material at Haifa’s port, a water shortage in Kfar Shmariyahu, the planting of a “dirty” bomb at a Jerusalem school and an attack on military facilities in Beit Lid.

Eight communities will practice the speedy distribution of gas masks.

“During a war, the home front will go through a trying time,” an army official said, “Apart from the mental anguish, some areas will face various crises, and the correct response may reduce the uncertainty.”

“The drill is based on operative plans and lessons drawn from Operation Cast Lead,” said the official.

“A strong home front, which is considered by our enemies as the country’s ‘soft spot’, will give the IDF more time to do its job,” he added.

Meanwhile, our enemies are using the existence of the drill to instill fear in their people.

Hezbollah’s deputy head, Nabil Qaouk, said Friday that the Shi’ite organization had stepped up its alert status ahead of the “war game” being conducted on Sunday in Israel.

Qaouk said thousands of Hezbollah fighters will not take part in one of the stages of Lebanon’s municipal elections today because they are preparing for the possible attack by Israel.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?



11:34PM: Scenes from today’s National Home Front Command Exercise.

11:24PM: It looks like Elvis Costello came to Israel after all.

protester
Israeli border policemen drag an international activist during a protest against the construction of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, Sunday, May 23, 2010. Israel says the barrier is needed for security, but Palestinians consider it a land grab.(AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

7:26PM: What took us so long?

A bill that calls for severely limiting the visitation rights of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails was approved Sunday by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

Under the proposed law, colloquially referred to as the “Schalit Law,” the conditions under which Hamas prisoners are held will be made more stringent – they will be denied all visits except by legal counsel and representatives of the International Red Cross.

6:45PM: McDonald’s in Israel is reducing the percentage of fat in its meat from 17.5% to 9.%

As a result, the McRoyal burger sold in Israel  has 30% fewer calories than McRoyal and Big Mac burgers sold abroad, although its composition and weight may be different in other countries.

Sounds like they’ve just made it 30% smaller!

6:36PM: David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post rips Elvis Costello a new one.

6:05PM: Traitor Mordechai Vanunu has invoked the Elephant Man on his way to prison (again).

“I survived 18 years [in prison] – I could survive [even] another six,” Vanunu shouted outside the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday. “Are you trying to discipline me? You cannot take my freedom of expression away … I’m not an animal,” he stated.

Watch out for Bradley, Mordy.

3:28PM: Talk about biting the hand that feeds you (and excuses your terrorism):

The top United Nations aid official in Gaza said Sunday that dozens of masked gunmen have vandalized a UN summer camp being set up for children and teens on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast.

John Ging said the assailants tied up the guard early Sunday, burned tents and vandalized bathrooms. UN officials say the attackers left behind three bullets and a note threatening to kill Ging and others unless the UN cancels its activities for some 250,000 Gaza children.

UN summer camps offer arts, sports and other activities.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but sources say the assailants are likely extreme Islamists who view the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which runs the camp, as a Western body trying to wrestle control over Gaza. In the past, Islamist extremists have set fire to dozens of Gaza internet cafes, shops that sell alcohol, and libraries and offices of Christian organizations.

I’m looking forward to seeing how they blame this on Israel. Perhaps a claim it was in reality the work of masked settlers?

1:52PM: Meet the American contestant on Israel’s version of American Idol (“Kochav Nolad”).

1:00PM: With yet more boatloads of pro-palestinian activists terror-enablers on their way to Gaza from Turkey, Israelis are fighting back, with a flotilla setting off from the shores of Herzliya in response, carrying banners noting Gaza rocket fire toward Israel and displaying photos of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

And otherwise grabbing the attention of passers-by.

Meanwhile, Abraham Cooper of Ynet has his own suggestions.

So what can be done to thwart this cynical exercise from reinforcing the dominant narrative not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but in mainstream Western media, that Gaza is “under siege” by callous Israel?

For starters it can tell an indifferent world what actually entered Gaza legally from Israel just this last week of the “siege”: 637 truckloads, consisting of 14,069 tons of humanitarian aid.

Among the goods for Gaza civilians were 810,209 liters of heavy duty diesel fuel; 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food; 897 tons of cooking gas; 66 truckloads of fruits and vegetables; 51 truckloads of wheat; 27 truckloads of meat, chicken and fish products; 40 truckloads of dairy products; 117 truckloads of animal feed; 36 truckloads of hygiene products; 38 trucks of clothing; 22 trucks of sugar and 4 trucks of medicine and medical equipment.

In addition to that, 781 medical patients and accompanying individuals from the Gaza Strip crossed into Israel to receive treatment in various hospitals and 191 staff members of international organizations crossed into the Gaza Strip, and 202 crossed back from Gaza.

But numbers alone cannot win the day against the imagery of an international humanitarian flotilla braving a naval blockade. No, to win the day at CNN or SKY News, Israeli NGOs should launch their own flotilla from Ashkelon. It should be led by survivors of suicide bombings and families of the innocents who perished in the tsunami of terror that led to the erecting of the anti-terror fence in the first place.

10:08AM: Remember the Zionist Traffic Lights of DeathTM ?

Well, CAMERA raises its own red light regarding the allegations and shows that the only unfair treatment here is that being displayed towards Israel.

CAMERA has looked into the allegation, trumpeted by the Economist and Al Jazeera English, that traffic light patterns at a northern Jerusalem intersection (and elsewhere) are evidence of Israeli discrimination against Arab Jerusalemites. A March 6, 2010 article in the Economist claimed lights in Jerusalem “flick green only briefly for cars from Palestinian districts while staying green for cars from Jewish settlements for minutes,” and an April 27 segment broadcast by Al Jazeera English argued the same.

As noted in CAMERA’s article, “Economist Demonizes Israel with Racist Traffic Light Accusation,” those news reports disingenuously twisted a universal urban frustration — traffic — to demonize the Israel.

Our video below of the not-so-mean streets of Jerusalem likewise zooms out from the Economist and Al Jazeera’s distorted close up, visually revealing that in Jerusalem, traffic snares Jews and Arabs alike. Sometimes cars from Jewish neighborhoods encounter longer green lights and sometimes those from Arab neighborhoods do. Much of the time, though, they encounter at the exact same lights, waiting longer at intersections with major, modern roads while passing quickly through intersections with smaller roads.

6:06AM: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has arrived in Israel for a private visit, which will include the celebration of his son’s bar mitzvah at the Western Wall.

Which is interesting, since I could have sworn he considered that occupied territory.

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