IDF begins survey to increase civilian protection in northern Israel

First phase of Northern Shield project will see security needs strengthened in 21 communities along Lebanese border.

The Lebanese village of Adaisseh is seen on the left-hand-side of the Israel-Lebanon border, as seen from Kibbutz Misgav Am in northern Israel August 26, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Lebanese village of Adaisseh is seen on the left-hand-side of the Israel-Lebanon border, as seen from Kibbutz Misgav Am in northern Israel August 26, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF’s Home Front Command and Defense Ministry have begun conducting an engineering survey in various communities along the Lebanese northern border to determine and strengthen their security needs.
Expected to last for two months, the surveyors together with the heads of regional councils and community representatives will assess the needs of residents in terms of personal bomb shelters or protected space in their home.
The project is in accordance with the Cabinet’s decision to fortify the north against threats posed by Israel’s enemies.
The border area with Lebanon has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltrations and has seen several infiltrations over the years. The IDF believes that during the next war with Hezbollah will see the terrorist group bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating communities in the Upper Galilee in an attempt to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
In December 2019, the IDF launched Operation Northern Shield to discover and destroy all cross-border tunnels dug by Hezbollah.
While the IDF announced the end of the operation after finding and destroying six tunnels, it noted that it “is simultaneously monitoring several locations where Hezbollah is digging underground structures which have yet to cross into Israel.”
Last January, the IDF and the Defense Ministry began the Northern Shield project deploying new technological infrastructure along the Lebanese border to detect the sound and vibrations  of further digging by the terrorist group.
According to the military, the deployment is another component of the IDF’s extensive defensive effort to prevent any infiltrations by Hezbollah operatives into Israeli territory.
While the current part of the Northern Shield project will focus on private residential homes in 21 communities along the Lebanese border, the project will also see the upgrade of public shelters as well as the construction of new shelters in educational and welfare institutions.
Home Front Command head Brig.-Gen. Dudu Abada said that the plan will not only provide protection for residents of 21 communities near the border but will strengthen the preparedness of civilians living in the north during emergencies.
“The Home Front Command will continue to act in accordance with government decisions to promote projects aimed at strengthening the resilience of Israeli citizens,” he said.
A recent report published by the Israel Builders Association based on data provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics painted a grim picture of a lack of fortifications in the face of a missile attack by Hezbollah, with some 800,000 civilians in northern Israel lacking a bomb shelter or secure space.
In December, a survey published by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center found that 35% of residents in Israel’s north don’t have access to bomb shelters near their homes and 36% do not have one at home.
Last year, former defense minister Avigdor Liberman said that since the 2006 war in Lebanon, the government has invested some NIS 1.7 billion in protective facilities in southern Israel around the Gaza Strip where some 46,000 residents live, spending an estimated NIS 37,000 per resident.
Meanwhile, in the north, which is home to 244,000 Israelis, over the same period of time the government spent NIS 236 million, or approximately NIS 970 per capita.
Giora Zeltz, the head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, was quoted by Yediot Ahronot in September as warning of a disaster should Nasrallah choose to fire his massive missile arsenal at populated areas.
“More than 50% of the people in these areas don’t have shelters, and when a major event happens there will be hundreds of thousands with no shelter to protect them. We’re talking about a very large area with zero response time. We need to fortify all the public and educational buildings by the end of 2020. With all the stupidity floating around, nothing is happening,” he added.
“There’s a real dissonance between the government’s claims and its actions. According to the government, more than 100,000  missiles are expected to land from Rosh Hanikra all the way to Mount Hermon,” he continued. “Think about the day when those missiles fall on populated areas.”