olmert rocket damage 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
"We must be prepared for every scenario. Although this is not the current situation, we must expedite our efforts so that this place can take in casualties at any time," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during a visit to the Western Galille Hospital in Nahariya on Thursday.
The hospital sustained damages during repetitive Hizbullah rocket barrages during the war.
During Olmert's second visit to the North this week, he also met with hospital staff including the head of the hospital, Professor Saul Sasa as well as Nahariya's mayor, Jackie Sabag.
Sabag showed gratitude to the prime minister, telling him that, as opposed to other mayors of northern towns, felt his presence during the attacks. "Several days ago I heard that you were asked, "Where were you?" We know you were here and I wanted to thank you for that," the mayor said.
"Billions will be invested ... to turn the north into the paradise it can be," Olmert vowed. He said hundreds of millions of shekels had also been collected by foreign donors, but did not elaborate.
Olmert also spoke with Yitzhak Kobi, the father of Idan Kobi (z"l), an IDF reserve soldier killed in Kfar Debl in southern Lebanon. He also met with other soldiers who were wounded in battle.
While gazing upon Lebanon, the prime minister said, "We have to protect ourselves. The north and the city of Haifa are at the top of the State of Israel's priorities."
Olmert was then to meet with members of Nahariya's city council to draw conclusions on defending the city from additional Katyusha rocket attacks.
Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin on Wednesday joined the growing wave of criticism being aimed at the government for its handling of the home front during the war in Lebanon.
"The local government in the North totally collapsed during the war," Diskin said Wednesday at a closed-door Shin Bet meeting.
"I think it makes sense for people like me, who are inside the system, to criticize [the way things were handled]," Channel 2 quoted Diskin as saying. "This is not the time to cover things up. The truth should be told. Without a doubt, the North was abandoned, and somebody has to explain and take responsibility."
Also on Wednesday, the first session of a special ministerial committee on rehabilitating the North convened during which Olmert urged cabinet ministers to "spend as much time as they can" in touring the North, and to hold their meetings there.
"It is crucial to do this to fully implement our resolution to make the rehabilitation of Haifa and the North a central goal of the State of Israel's national priorities for the near future," Olmert said, according to a communique released by his office.
Some 4,000 rockets landed in the North during the war.
Olmert also vowed to prepare the home front for "various scenarios" and said the cabinet would be briefed on Sunday on preparations to protect it in the short- and long-term.
"This is part of the speedy action the government is taking in all its systems, including the security system and civilian systems, to prepare the home front for various scenarios which must be taken into account given the circumstances," his office quoted him as saying.
The committee is headed by Olmert, and includes Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who is minister for Galilee and Negev development, and Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson.