Local leaders slam gov't for lack of emergency preparedness

Home Front commander Golan says dozens of missiles could hit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem in next war; Mofaz: Israel will be ready for war on homefront.

June 13, 2011 13:15
2 minute read.
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Missile Drill 311. (photo credit: ben hartman)

Local authority heads slammed the government for not helping them prepare for wars and natural disasters, at a conference hosted by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

During the conference on emergency preparedness, which was organized in cooperation with the Union of Local Authorities, Acre Mayor Shimon Lancry said: “I don’t trust anyone in an emergency, not even the state. Only 20 percent of [Acre’s] residents have usable [bomb] shelters.”

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Sderot Mayor David Bouskila said the government has harmed people’s morale, which needs to be boosted in case of an emergency.

“When there’s a war, all of the ministers come and visit us, but the minute the fighting is over, they all disappear. A town that isn’t prepared will end up abandoned during a war,” Bouskila said.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav also lamented the lack of help from the government. “Unfortunately, most of our emergency supplies were bought with donated money,” he said.

Yahav said that existing bomb shelters, which he called “death traps,” should be destroyed so that new ones can be built.

He also said he was “terrified by the possibility that there will be an earthquake or a tsunami in Haifa.”

“It scares me even more than the possibility of missiles falling,” Yahav said.

Ze’ev Tzuk Ram, head of the National Emergency Management Authority, explained that the state was behind in distributing gas masks to the public.

In addition, Tzuk Ram said, “40% of public shelters are back in the terrible state they were in before the Second Lebanon War.” He recommended that local authorities fine residents who use shelters for storage.

MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also criticized the government, mentioning that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had established a Home Front Defense Ministry, but that the authority to take care of most homefront matters was still in the Defense Ministry’s hands.

“If the State of Israel knows how to be prepare for an earthquake, it will be ready for war on the homefront,” Mofaz said.

The Kadima MK added that Israel had to think creatively to deal with the many threats it faced, warning of unprecedented numbers of missiles set to hit major cities in the next war.

OC Home Front Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan warned that dozens of medium-range missiles could strike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the next war.

“The threats are not just limited to one zone. They are spread throughout the country, with a greater range of weapons,” he said.

Golan added that the next war would probably be longer, because “our enemies have a larger weapons inventory than they had before.

“The way their arsenal has developed is a dramatic threat,” he said, adding that Israel could face attacks on power stations and water treatment facilities.

“The threat has become more significant,” Golan said.

The general presented a chart of major cities and what kind of missiles they may face in the next major conflict. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were both listed as targets for dozens of medium-range missiles, as well as a few long-range ones.

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