Olmert pledges to upgrade shelters

On visit to Shlomi, PM touts "the sense of security among the population."

ehud olmert 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
ehud olmert 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
A day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised benefits to Jerusalem amounting to NIS 5.75 billion over the next five years, he headed to the North and continued spreading the largesse, promising NIS 95 million to refurbish the bomb shelters there. Olmert said that NIS 50 million of the sum would come from the government's budget, and the other NIS 40 million from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein's International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. "We will present a budget to upgrade and refurbish all the shelters in the North, from the Acre-Amiad line northward, within a number of months," Olmert told a meeting of local and regional council heads in Karmiel. Adi Eldar, the mayor of Karmiel and the head of the Local Authorities Union, said this should have been started earlier. However, he acknowledged that government bureaucracy works slowly, and said he was optimistic that within a number of months, the majority of shelters in the North would be prepared for the possibility of absorbing people for extended stays. During the tour, which began in the town of Shlomi and included a stopover in Arab el-Aramsha, Shlomi Mayor Gabi Na'aman took Olmert to a lookout post to see where Hizbullah outposts had been positioned before the war. "We are no longer under daily observation [from Hizbullah]," he said, adding that until the war, "every time we opened up our mouths, we knew that they were listening to us." Olmert said he was encouraged by "the sense of security among the population," which he said was "greater than it was a year ago." The prime minister also visited the bomb shelters that served Shlomi residents during the war, and Na'aman told him that despite the funding promised by the government - and although nearly a year had passed since the war - the shelters were still inadequate for a lengthy stay. After four or five days, "people simply must go outside for fresh air," he said. "The shelters do not have enough supplies for an extended stay." Olmert said it was impossible to immediately solve all the problems of the country's shelters - an endeavor that he said would cost "billions of shekels."