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Northern kibbutz drills evacuating in preparation of Third Lebanon War

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Itongadol.- A decade following the Second Lebanon War and on the background of warnings of Hezbollah threats, a few dozen residents of the Ma\’ayan Baruch kibbutz in the Upper Galilee participated on Tuesday morning in an evacuation drill, the first of its kind. The imagined scenario was a war on the northern border with Lebanon. The participants stayed in shelters, and buses were brought for the evacuation.

The scenario was run for the first time since the Second Lebanon War. During Operation Protective Edge, entire towns were evacuated, but this is the first time that such an event was practiced in the north. The exercise was carried out by the IDF and the Upper Galilee Regional Council. According to predictions, if continued warfare were to come to the area, 14 communities along the border in council would have to be evacuated.

This would encompass the potential activation of 5,500 residents; many would certainly prefer to self-evacuate in their own vehicles. The council would aid the security forces and instruct the public what equipment they would take with them. First, people belonging to special populations would be evacuated—senior citizens, those with special needs, and people in care. The local radio station, Voice of the Upper Galilee, would transmit an emergency broadcast to provide information to the public.

The territorial defense divisional officer, Lt. Col. Yanif Krief, commented on the evacuation exercise, "A significant preparation process is being performed here in light of the insights and lessons from the Second Lebanon War. We are learning; it\’s something new. It\’s a tool that we are preparing to use in case of emergency."

Giora Salz, the head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, said, "Ten years after the Second Lebanon War, we\’re carrying out a multi-scale exercise that will, inter alia, evacuating citizens, operating our rescue unit, and more."

According to Salz, "There will be a few very hard days surrounding bombing and ammunitions, and the council will operate without help or support from external sources, as they\’ll be busy in other places that need it more. We\’ll have to evacuate residents from kibbutzim, at least near the (border) fence, so that we can continue dealing with the emergency routines

"We are prepared to operate so that we can produce here, despite the difficulties, emergency routines that will allow the IDF to operate, and so that we, the residents of the Upper Galilee, will broadcast to the country\’s residents and to the other side that we are here, and we\’ll remain here forever."

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