Northerners: Shelters still not ready

Winograd C'tee's interim report reopens painful sores for Galilee residents.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Almost a year since the hills and valleys of the north transformed into slopes of burning scrub, painful sores were reopened for Galilee residents following the Monday publication of the Winograd Committee's intermediate report. "We are in a worse situation than we were before the war. The bomb shelters are not ready. Home Front Command has even told us that," said Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai hours before the report was published. Barbivai emphasized that the shelters, whose condition had been criticized during the war, had not been repaired or improved since residents spent a month between their thick walls. Yaniv, a 35-year old Safed resident who spent much of the war on active reserves duty said that he is concerned that his parents, who spent much of the war in a Safed bomb shelter, had been made to suffer needlessly. "If they had already kept people in the north shut in bomb shelters for a month, they should have pressed harder to reach the goals of the war," he said. As a reservist, he said that he believes that "the army is good, but it needs to be shaken out. If there was good political leadership, it would have been better."
It was the political leadership, which came under fire so heavily from Winograd, that Yaniv reserved for his sharpest words. Yaniv said that his esteem for policymakers - even before hearing the report's findings - was "very low". "We feel that the leadership is very weak." Yaniv said that he thinks that "the entire leadership should resign", but said that he is satisfied that the Winograd Commission held a sufficient inquiry. "An investigative commission might have taken years before it came to a conclusion," he explained. Yaniv hopes that - Winograd notwithstanding - the political leadership has already learned the most important lesson of last summer's war. "I think this made politicials a bit more cautious about leading us to war. They need to know now that the price of paralyzing the north is a dear price to pay, and should think twice next time about how to run such a war. ...But as long as the same people are leading the sense is such that nothing will change." he concluded. Forty kilometers northward along the Lebanese border, the Zioni family has been living in Metulla for almost forty years. Avraham and Rahel Zioni raised children and later grandchildren in the town whose orchards share a fence with the UN-patrolled border. Avraham echoed Yaniv's disappointment with the current leadership. "There was a bad feeling during the war. There was a feeling that something wasn't right. We knew, as residents of the north who were in the war, that there was a general failure. I am certain we must fix things, but to our disappointment, there is nobody to take the reins even if Olmert were to resign." Unlike Yaniv, however, Avraham thinks that Olmert might as well stay in office until the coming elections in order to fix the problems that were revealed by the report. "Lets say tomorrow Olmert leaves and [Ehud] Barak or Bibi [Netanyahu] comes. They were both already in power, and helped to build this situation. It's better that Olmert should stay and learn the lessons. Maybe next time, the country will choose someone else." Avraham's criticism was also directed toward the army. "I want to see the army becoming better, stronger. I want the officers to be better. I was in the army for a long time and I think that officers today aren't made of the same material that they once were." Unlike Yaniv, Avraham says that he and his wife are confident that the situation for both the north and the country as a whole has improved in the months following the end of the war. He he believes that increased training and raising the IDF budget are steps in the right direction. Avraham, who sent his children and grandchildren south during the war, said that the bottom line is clear, "We must be together and not against each other. This is our country, and it is our only one."