Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | Ryan Jones
Air raid sirens sent Israelis across the country scurrying into their bomb shelters Wednesday morning. Even members of Knesset had to seek shelter, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet met in a secret underground bunker.
The siren was part of a nation-wide civil defense exercise dubbed “Turning Point 5.” The week-long exercise, which began on Sunday, simulated critical damage to Israel’s national infrastructure as the result of a ballistic missile attack.
Israel remains concerned that Islamic forces in Lebanon, Syria and Iran could soon use their extensive arsenals to launch a devastating coordinated assault on the Jewish state.
The danger has escalated of late with Syria in the throws of a national uprising that is expected to end with the downfall of dictator Bashar Assad. Many Israelis fear that if Assad sees no way out, he may try to secure a legacy for himself by launching one final attack against Israel.
If Syria’s flailing regime were to attack Israel, it is almost certain that Lebanon’s ruling Hizballah militia would do the same, and that Iran would use Israel’s retaliatory actions to jutsify its own assault.
On top of that, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is still believed to be in possession of thousands of short- and medium-ranged missiles.
Israeli military officials estimate that in the next war, the tiny Jewish state will be bombarded by up to 800 missiles every day.