The IDF (Zahal)’s Home Front Command works tirelessly to prepare soldiers and Israeli civilians for emergency situations on all fronts. Capt. Nitzan Tzouk, an officer in the Home Front Command, recently led a district-wide exercise in Amakim that required coordination with the army, volunteers, and emergency organizations. He has the heavy responsibility of assuring the safety and readiness of Israel’s Amakim District in the north during times of emergency.
The exercise commences with a volley of missiles headed towards northern Israel. Citizens are stricken with fear and their needs to be addressed. Home Front Command, volunteers, Magen David Adom – Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service – and Israel Police are called to the scene to evacuate those affected to a safer area and to ensure calm. This is just one of the scenarios that Capt. Nitzan Tzouk needs to simulate in order for both the military and Israeli civilians to be ready.
Capt. Nitzan is the District Officer of the Amakim Governorate in the north, the home front’s largest governorate composed of 35 local authorities. He is only 24 years old, but he’s tasked with preparing all of these local authorities for emergencies.
The exercises require rigorous planning and an extensive amount of coordination with volunteers and emergency organizations. Capt. Nitzan deals with each local authority from the lower Galilee to Tiberias, and works with civilian security officers in order to properly train the local authorities for operational activity. Capt. Nitzan describes the job as “challenging, complex, and busy every single day.” He got his first real taste of the action during Operation Protective Edge when sirens went off in northern Israel.
Capt. Nitzan led a variety of exercises over a period of four days. The week reached its peak during the last few days when many different scenarios were played out. In the first simulation, missiles were fired at the Jezreel Valley and the Tavor Industrial Zone, and emergency forces were confronted with an ammonia attack as well. Workers from two factories had to be cleared out immediately and the ammonia had to be eliminated.
The second scenario was the evacuation of special institutions in which older residents or children, limited in their mobility, needed to be evacuated by the Home Front Command to an alternate location in order to sleep and relax following the trauma of a missile attack.
Lastly, Capt. Nitzan organized an event which required the participation of 50 families, special broadcasts in numerous languages, and coordination with the mayor of a municipality. Each family was examined by an officer to see how they fared in following Home Front Command instructions. These instructions include the suggested amount of time to enter a shelter and how to deal with children during a time of emergency.
The success of these activities wouldn’t be possible without the willingness of volunteers. During the first moments of an emergency, the civilian is the first responder. Capt. Nitzan emphasizes that the “Home Front Command responds quickly, but citizens need to know the threats and how to act during an emergency situation.” Therefore, he builds strong connections with the civilians, local councils, and reservists so that they have the ability to be operational if needed.
Capt. Nitzan Tzouk
While Capt. Nitzan’s mission in the IDF (Zahal) appears daunting, he’s happy to be able to contribute to the safety of the home front and for the opportunity to meet with individuals always willing to help. He believes that if civilians are ready for emergencies, it gives the soldiers on the frontlines the peace of mind that their families are alert and safe for any situation back home. A job like Capt. Nitzan’s keeps the nation resilient and strong, ready to confront any threat that comes their way.