A girl stands inside a bomb shelter in Ashkelon 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Israel's civil defenses are not ready to protect the population in a
missile war, an opposition lawmaker said on Monday, fueling debate about
the feasibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear program.
one in four Israelis lack access to bomb shelters, whether communal or
reinforced rooms in private homes, said MK Ze'ev Bielski (Kadima),
chairman of a parliamentary panel on home defense preparations.
"Are we prepared for a war? No," he told Reuters. "Things are moving too slowly and we are wasting very precious time."
shelters could be vital if Israel were to attack Iran's nuclear
facilities and Tehran struck back, either directly or through its allies
on Israel's borders.
Israel says 100,000 rockets and missiles
are pointed at it, many of these held by Syria, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas, although they may decide to sit out any war
between Israel and Iran.
The Civil Defense Ministry, which was
set up after Israel suffered thousands of rocket strikes in the 2006
Lebanon war, confirmed Bielski's data while seeking to play down his
"Our position remains that if everyone does what they are
expected to do during an emergency, the situation will be tenable," one
ministry official said.
This appeared to reinforce remarks in
November by Defense Minister Ehud Barak that, should Iran retaliate for
an attack with missile salvoes against Israel, it could inflict fewer
than 500 fatalities "if everyone stays in their homes".
discrepancy between the vulnerability of Israel's home front and the
relatively low casualties forecast by Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu's conservative government has several roots.
member of the centrist opposition party Kadima, said Israel's advanced
missile interceptors and its regular civil defense drills for
emergencies stood it in good stead.
But he said: "Even if the number of dead is 500, we need to do a lot more in order to stem that. Any number is too many for us."
new report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and
International Studies said Iran's ballistic missiles would be "lucky" to
hit within a 1-2 km range of their targets in Israel. But it
noted that Israel is 92 percent urbanized -- making even random strikes
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