Israeli ministers on Monday were to test their response to the scenario of simultaneous attacks from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip as part of a major home front defence drill.
The five-day exercise, the largest in the country’s history, is being staged against the backdrop of increased tension on the northern border, prompting the government to reassure Syria and Lebanon there was no hidden agenda behind the manoeuvres.
The drill, which started on Sunday, simulates air and missile attacks on Israeli cities, and the use of non-conventional weapons by the attackers.
As part of Monday’s simulation members of the security cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, will have to make decisions after being told of widespread attacks and high numbers of casualties.
Monday’s exercise has Israel coming under simultaneous attack from Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in the north and from Palestinian militants in Gaza to the south.
The government will also test coordination of vital services, including food distribution centres, hospitals and postal services.
The prime minister and his staff will also train to work from an underground bomb shelter at the premier's Jerusalem office, officials said.