Many bomb shelters not ready for emergency use

Study: Ten months after Second Lebanon War, 80% of shelters in multi-family housing units unprepared.

bobm shelter in nahariya (photo credit: AP)
bobm shelter in nahariya
(photo credit: AP)
Ten months after the Second Lebanon War, a study has revealed that 80% of the bomb shelters in multi-family housing units in the North are still unprepared for emergency use. The study, conducted by the Organization for Housing Culture, revealed that an additional 50% of shelters in the South - including in the Gaza envelope area in range of Kassam rockets - are also unfit for emergency use. The organization's northern district director, Shimon Alon, emphasized that in recent months the organization had received dozens of requests from citizens expressing interest in renovating and repairing shelters in multi-family units. Among the problems cited were old and derelict shelters without the infrastructure necessary for supporting the occupants during an emergency. In some cases, the shelters were not connected to electricity or did not have working toilets and ventilation. In the South, the organization reported, the situation was only marginally better. Sderot and Ashkelon, southern district director Yehezkel Yiganeh said, were no exceptions, despite the current security situation. Last week, a similar study reported that there were only 28 shelters in Sderot that were currently ready for use. In the Southern District as well, the organization said that they had received dozens of complaints and engineering advisers were deployed to investigate the situation. They found that the shelter crisis in the South was especially critical during the winter months, when approximately 30% of the shelters in multi-family buildings are flooded and completely unusable. Alon explained that in most cases, tenants and residents were unaware of how to improve the status of the shelters - a situation that could be avoided if proper advisers were easily available to the residents. Reuven Tzadok, the head of the Organization for Housing Culture, said in response to the findings that "the revelations of the failures in the shelters during the Second Lebanon War inspired our organization to understand that regional directors must be prepared on all topics related to protecting the home front in multi-family buildings. Without receiving aid from the country and clear plans for renovating the shelters, the country will not manage to prepare the shelters for any future incident." The organization emphasized that they planned on hosting a professional conference to offer direction and tools for improving the situation in shelters. Also on Sunday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and the Knesset State Control Committee visited Sderot. The committee gathered at the city hall building and discussed the recent State Comptroller's Report findings on the status of anti-rocket protection for buildings, educational institutes and private homes in the city. "Those who read the report saw the failures we found here before their eyes. We came here to listen and learn the situation better," said Lindenstrauss at the opening of the meeting. OC Home Front Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Gershon told the committee that since January 2007, 452 Kassam rockets had been launched from the Gaza Strip at Sderot and the area. Most of the rockets - 236 - were fired during the last 10 days, of which most landed within Sderot. "So far we found a shortage of around 5,000 security rooms and bomb shelters in Sderot while 1,600 residents have no immediate protection in case of a Kassam attack. All educational institutions in town were fortified, some of them completely and some only partly. "From March 2005 to May 2007, the government had invested NIS 451 million in the fortification of Sderot and the towns bordering Gaza. However, much more has yet to be done," said Gershon. Gershon added that during this current wave of attacks on the area, 165 people were wounded, of whom 142 people suffered from shock, 17 were lightly wounded, four suffered medium wounds and two people were killed. Shelly Paz contributed to this report.