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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Although Syrian President Bashir Assad was talking peace on Tuesday, emergency response organizations in the North were preparing for the worst, discussing contingency plans for "the next war."
Less than a month after a State Comptroller's Report that blasted the management of the home front during the Second Lebanon War, the IDF and Israel Police co-sponsored a one-day conference in Nazareth on the region's preparedness.
Police officials said the conference had been planned long in advance of the report, delivered by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on July 18. In the document, Lindenstrauss cited serious problems in coordination among the various response units, and the fact that police and the IDF's Home Front Command had adopted a plan that had not been approved by national-level commanders.
Representatives of the Home Front Command, Magen David Adom, and fire and rescue services took part in the talks at the police's Northern District Headquarters, along with environmental specialists and heads of local councils.
The subjects discussed included the specific responsibilities of local and regional authorities during wartime or emergency situations. In his report, Lindenstrauss had cited the collapse of some local authorities during the war and their inability to provide vital social services during a time of emergency.
Although Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav and his counterpart from Upper Nazareth, Menahem Ariav, joined Arab local authority heads to discuss emergency services providers, the members of the Confrontation Line Forum - the heads of regional authorities and towns closest to the Lebanese border - were not officially represented at the conference.
It was the members of that forum - which includes hard-hit cities such as Ma'alot-Tarshiha and Kiryat Shmona - who leveled some of the heaviest criticism of the government's ability to respond to the needs of the home front during the Second Lebanon War.
Galilee Subdistrict chief Lt.-Cmdr. Nir Mariash, who was present throughout, downplayed the conference, saying it was an "annual refresher to remind all of the organizations involved of operational procedures and the bases for cooperation."