This week, Israel is conducting a drill to prepare the population for a war scenario. Tomorrow, Tuesday June 2, 2009, at 1100, the sirens will sound and everyone will go into the nearest shelter (except for those on the road, who are supposed to continue driving as normal - let's hope there are no traffic accidents resulting from panic at the sound of the siren...). A map has been published, showing how long civilians in various places have to reach shelter before a missile could hit, based on the distance from the borders. Here in Haifa we have 50 seconds.
As a law abiding and responsible citizen, I will go down to our bomb shelter, as we did several times a day during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when Haifa was attacked by missiles fired from Lebanon. This is a room made of reinforced concrete in the basement of the building (we live on the second floor). It is full of junk and the walls are mouldy, and since the building is over forty years old, I have no idea how much protection this shelter would provide in case of a direct missile hit...
Personally, I consider this drill to be unnecessary and even harmful in several ways. It will awaken traumatic memories of previous wars among the entire population. While rationally everyone knows there is a risk of another war in the future, in practice we all get on with life by living in a sort of denial, or at least not dwelling on this issue more than we have to. Most people know where the nearest shelter is, and can time how long it would take them to get there even without a siren sounding. The sirens are also used for the minute's silence on Holocaust Day and Remembrance Day, so they have been tested quite recently.
Apart from that, it seems to me that this event could create an atmosphere of panic, fear and expectation of war. Do we really need to have a war mentality? This seems to show other countries that we are not expecting to achieve peace. I consider this attitude typical of the current government's position, and fear the outcome of this sort of thinking.