Defense Ministry seeks to end years of uncertainty over Israel's war preparedness

New bill would “regulate the division of labor and missions” between state institutions, local government, emergency services, and economic bodies, the ministry claims.

June 29, 2016 19:57
2 minute read.
 Merkava Mk. 4 tanks

Tank crews from the Seventh Brigade's 75th Battalion train with their new Merkava Mk. 4 tanks. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

After many years of uncertainty over who has jurisdiction in the home front during times of war, the Defense Ministry submitted a draft bill seeking to create order out of the chaos.

The bill, for the first time, would “regulate the division of labor and missions” between state institutions, local government, emergency services, and economic bodies, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

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It would stipulate who is responsible for the strategic stockpiling of goods or resources for wartime, and name those tasked with maintaining services and daily life during national emergencies.

The bill comes in response to growing attempts by terrorist organizations to disrupt and paralyze the home front, as the wars of the past decade have demonstrated, the Defense Ministry said.

“This reality, in which terrorists focus their war efforts against the national home front, obligates us to prepare the civilian front accordingly for the possibility of future war events,” the ministry said.

According to the bill, the defense minister will lead preparations for emergency situations, and will be a “senior partner” in running the economy during the outbreak of hostilities.

According to the latest IDF assessments, any future largescale conflict would likely involve multiple fronts, and would see many thousands of rockets fired into the country.

The National Emergency Authority will coordinate activities among all bodies dealing with emergencies, and define their respective jurisdiction. The NEA will create a “national master plan for the next 10 years” that will form the basis or emergency preparations, including the need for local authorities and emergency services to prepare. The NEA will also prepare a budget for its decade long plan, before the cabinet votes on it.

Government ministries, local authorities, rescue services, and infrastructure providers will be responsible for preparing themselves under the plan, and ensure they are properly stocked with emergency reserves. The defense minister will be authorized to instruct factories vital to the economy to ensure the have sufficient emergency reserves, like fuel, and electric generators.

The IDF Home Front Command works with local authorities to prepare them for emergencies, and maintains its own search and rescue battalions that specialize in getting trapped civilians out of rubble.

On Sunday, the head of air defenses in the IAF warned that in any future war, Israel will be hit with the largest rocket salvos in its history.

Speaking at the Israel Air Missile Defense Conference at Rishon Lezion, which was organized by the iHLS website, Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich said that Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas were carrying out joint research and development of rockets, adding, “We can see a lot of live tests in Gaza with Hamas, and with Iran and Hezbollah [in Lebanon]. They have put in a lot of effort into increasing and improving their skills.”

Hostile entities will seek to overwhelm air defenses with heavy salvos, Haimovich said. “In the future, we will meet and engage much bigger salvos,” he said. They will come from multiple directions, and a “regional war” is a more realistic scenario than a single- front escalation.

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