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Israel warns Iran ahead of 'routine' emergency drill

  • Story Highlights
  • Israeli official accuses Iran of "provoking" Israel through allies Syria, Hezbollah
  • Emergency drill to be held throughout Israel this week
  • Drill will deal with emergency response to variety of attacks
  • Israeli PM: Drill has nothing to do with "exaggerated" reports of tension with Syria
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A day before Israel implements a "routine" emergency drill, an Israeli official Monday said the entire country is at risk of Hezbollah rocket attacks and blamed Iran for "provoking us" by backing the terrorist group.

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"An Iranian attack will lead to a harsh retaliation by Israel," says Benyamin Ben Eliezer.

Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benyamin Ben Eliezer warned against an attack by Iran, which he said is unlikely to happen.

"An Iranian attack will lead to a harsh retaliation by Israel, which will lead to the destruction of the Iranian nation," Ben Eliezer said, pointing out that Iran "will not attack Israel so quickly because they understand the ramifications."

"They are certainly aware of our strength," he said. "Nonetheless, the Iranians are provoking us through their allies Syria and Hezbollah, (providing) them with much weaponry, and with that we have to contend."

On Tuesday, Israel will begin a nationwide emergency response starting with a 90-second-long siren that will sound across Israel at 10 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) except in the southern town of Sderot, a frequent target of rocket attacks launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Ben Eliezer stressed that the nationwide emergency drill "is not aimed at threatening any of the countries surrounding us." But he offered a bleak scenario for Israel in the face of a future war.

"I predict that in the opening strike, hundreds of rockets will land in Israel," Ben Eliezer said. "There will not be a place in the country out of the range of the missiles and rockets of Syria and Hezbollah."

During Tuesday's drill, Israeli television will show a message from the military as well as instructional videos on how to seek shelter during an alert. During that time, Israeli schools and government offices will practice entering protected spaces.

The country will also begin practicing its response to a variety of attacks, including rocket strikes and incidents involving chemical and biological agents.

Haemek Hospital in Afula will be one of the institutions taking part in those drills, which will end on Thursday.

Speaking on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed the exercise "is only a drill" and has nothing to do with "exaggerated" reports of heightened tensions with Syria.

"I would like to make it unequivocally clear that this is a routine drill," Olmert said before the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting.

"The state of Israel is not intent on any violent confrontation in the north. On the contrary, we have said more than once that we have an interest in holding peace negotiations with Syria. They know exactly what our expectations are. I can also say that we know what their expectations are; if these conditions will bear fruit, then this is what we are intent on and nothing else."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the exercise is a direct result of Israel's 2006 war with Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon, which failed to weaken the Hezbollah either militarily or politically.

"The Second Lebanon War created a situation by which the home front is part of the front," Barak said Monday. "Israel has no interest in escalating the situation in the region." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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