(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
Settler leaders have a plan to absorb up to half a million people into their communities if a large-scale war breaks out in Israel.
“Judea and Samaria can be a place of refuge for the nation,” said Naftali Bennett, director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
He unveiled the plan Tuesday at a press conference in the council’s Jerusalem office. It is being drafted in conjunction with the IDF’s Home Front Command and Central Command, and the National Emergency Authority.
Geographically, Judea and Samaria is the area least likely to be hit by missiles, said Bennett, noting that during the Second Lebanon War, it was one of the quietest areas of the country.
It is also a short distance away from many regions of the country, he said.
The absorption program includes a transportation plan, with armored buses to bring people to the settlements, he said.
A pilot program is already under way in Samaria, Binyamin and Ariel.
On Wednesday, as part of the national drill, students at the Ariel University Center of Samaria will participate in a mock absorption exercise.
During the Second Lebanon War, the West Bank settlements were able to
absorb 10,000 people at their own private initiative. Now, with help
from the IDF, they are planning for anywhere from 100,000 to half a
Bennett said there was a low-intensity program to accommodate 100,000
people – one-third of the settler population of 310,000 – in existing
public institutions such as school dormitories, as well as some home
hospitality. After that, there are moderate and high-intensity programs.
Half a million people would stretch the region’s resources to the maximum, said Bennett, but it could be done.
“That’s an extreme scenario,” he added.
Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro’eh said that if necessary, tents and modular housing could quickly be set up.
“Judea and Samaria is an excellent place to absorb people,” said Ro’eh.
“This is a population that gives, and so it is clear to them that this
is something that has to happen.”