January 18, 2011 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday it plans to implement comprehensive measures in order to better protect missiles, munitions and other crucial military hardware from rocket attacks in any future conflict, according to The Jerusalem Post.

In addition, the Home Front Command has shortened the estimated time civilians would have to take cover from incoming missiles.

The army will not have the medium-range "Iron Dome" anti- missile system, which is said to protect areas in a 70-km radius, up and running until 2013.

The deployment of the Iron Dome batteries, which had originally been slated to protect civilian areas, was moved to cover crucial military sites. However, the army, at least partially, relented in deciding where to place the batteries after public outcry.

The bunker-building, set to begin in 2012, comes as a result of the 2006 conflict in Lebanon.

Israel's civilian population bore the brunt of that war, when Hezbollah fired some 4,000 Katyusha rockets and mortars into the country's northern areas. More than 150 civilians and soldiers were killed in the strikes, and over a million Israelis spent over a month in bomb shelters, or fled southward out of striking range.

However, that second option is no longer available, according to Home Front Command officials and military experts.

Outgoing IDF chief Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior officers have warned that the militant organizations now possess ballistic weapons that can reach Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and most of the country, according to an IDF press release earlier this month.

Due to upgraded munitions reaching both paramilitary groups, the Home Front Command has recently upgraded it's planning as well, and has alerted municipal officials that people will have 90 seconds at best to get under cover.

Officials previously had said that residents in the center of the country would have about two minutes to reach safety, before the aerial projectiles slammed down. Army officials will soon distribute new protocols for first-responders and emergency groups, according to the Ha'aretz newspaper.

Details of the comprehensive project, set to be implemented in 2012, were published by The Jerusalem Post newspaper Tuesday.The first step, according to IDF officials, will be to hollow out part of a mountain in a classified location, and construct a bunker of several hundred square meters within.

"We work under the assumption that in the next war, IDF bases will be targeted," a senior officer told the newspaper Monday.

The IDF Logistics and Technology Directorate came up with " Operational Continuity," in order to spread out the army's assets in a similar fashion, lowering their chances of being struck in wartime. Civilian contractors would perform the digging and construction, according to officials.

However, the official said, the army has also to be logistically capable of supplying troops at the front as well as " those operating behind enemy lines."

"The advantage of building bunkers inside mountains is that this way trucks, which come to load up on supplies, will not be doing so out in the open, but will be able to drive into the bunker where they will be protected, and then exit when it is safe again," the officer told the Post.

Army officials have visited similar facilities in several countries of late, including South Korea, in order to learn from other nations' experience.


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