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The IDF's Home Front Command has instituted a number of changes to its civilian defense branch following the failures and lessons learned from the Lebanon war. On Tuesday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will present the Knesset with a report on the government's and military's management of the home front during the 33-days of fighting last summer.
While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has refused to appear before the investigative committee or answer its questions, the IDF has cooperated with the State Comptroller's Office from the beginning. Officers, including OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Gershon Yitzhak, held numerous meetings with State Comptroller's Office officials and appeared before the committee.
On Sunday, the IDF released a statement that slightly criticized Lindenstauss for not allowing the military to see the interim report and respond before it is presented to the Knesset on Tuesday.
"The IDF has respected and cooperated with the State Comptroller's Office for many years," the IDF said. "The IDF does, however, expect to receive a draft of the report so it can respond before its publication as has been the custom over the past few years."
The assumption within the IDF is that the local authorities will take the brunt of the criticism in the comptroller's report. According to findings revealed to Lindenstrauss by Home Front Command, several local authorities have misused funds that were allocated for the management and upkeep of bomb shelters. In other instances, money that was given to local authorities so they could hire bomb-shelter inspectors were used for other purposes.
"The local authorities have misused funds and have tried to cheat the system," explained an officer intimately involved in the issue. "Instead of caring for their bomb shelters, the local authorities used the money on projects that never happened."
Later this month, the police, Home Front Command, Magen David Adom, the Fire and Rescue Service and other emergency services will participate in a massive unprecedented exercise during which sirens will be activated nationwide. It will drill the services and their response to a major missile attack.
The IDF has also invested money in a new system that can restrict the zone that a siren sounds in before a missile strikes. During the war, sirens would sound in Haifa, Acre and Hadera even if the missile only landed in Haifa. The IDF has also begun adding sirens to cities that were not completely covered by the early-warning system.
"The idea is not to have to send people unnecessarily to bomb shelters," explained an officer.
Another decision made by the IDF was to establish teams of Home Front Command reservists who will serve as liaisons with local authorities in time of war. The teams will assist in preparing bomb shelters and in transmitting instructions to the public.
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