Ma'alot head criticizes Winograd report for neglecting home front

Says renovating shelters one of the important lessons gov't didn't learn from the war.

bomb shelter 298 ch 1 (photo credit: Channel 1)
bomb shelter 298 ch 1
(photo credit: Channel 1)
With the tension before the release of the Winograd Report threatening to reach fever pitch, the city council head of one town on the northern border said Monday that the report failed to include a critical aspect in understanding the decision to go to war: preparedness of the home front. Ma'alot-Tarshiha Council Head Shlomo Buhbout warned that the same communities that were caught unprepared for the effects of the Second Lebanon War remain just as unprepared 18 months later. "I am very angry at Winograd, who didn't think it was part of their job to examine the the home front," said Buhbout. "This was absolute stupidity." The Final Winograd Report: All the latest news and analyses Home front preparedness, including the fact that shelters had only been readied for one to two days of usage, he said, should have been analyzed by decision-makers - and thus by Winograd - in determining whether or not to go to war. Buhbout argued that not much had actually been done to make sure that the home front was better prepared today than in July 2006. He said that following the war, the government budgeted NIS 60 million for improving bomb shelters in at-risk communities, but thus far, Ma'alot Tarshiha and other communities had not seen a single shekel. Buhbout explained that when the government became concerned that war with Syria was the greatest threat, money for the home front was routed to the area around Tiberias - leaving most of the Upper Galilee without funds. Buhbout's council requested some NIS 3.5m. for the repairs - above and beyond the work that Buhbout said the city had undertaken - including repainting the shelters and fixing the electrical wiring and lighting. "At least we could make people feel decent," he explained. "Our shelters - in terms of real features - are exactly like they were before the war. The showers, bathrooms and sleeping conditions were unacceptable for continued usage over a number of days, and they still aren," he said. "There is no equipment for people to prepare warm food." The situation, he said, was relatively good in Ma'alot. "There are some communities, however, that are in a catastrophic situation," he added. Cities such as Safed, where local authorities warned of overcrowding and poor sanitation in public shelters, have received assistance from private donors - such as Livnot U'Lehibanot and Keren L'yedidut, but not from the government. But, said Buhbout, renovating shelters was only one of the important lessons that the government should have - but didn't - take from the war. He recommended that all regional and local councils establish an emergency coordinating room, where representatives of all of the relevant bodies can operate in a unified manner. Buhbout also said he would like to see a "plan of organized activities - who will be the military commander of the city, how many soldiers will be assigned to the city and so on and so forth."