Audit reveals failures of local authorities

Comptroller's report uncovers authorities' failures in child protection, home front safety, inequalities in Arab municipalities.

A girl stands inside a bomb shelter in Ashkelon 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
A girl stands inside a bomb shelter in Ashkelon 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
An audit into the workings of local authorities has exposed a litany of serious failures and deficiencies in municipalities across the country, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said on Tuesday.
In a detailed report, which was presented to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Lindenstrauss said local authorities are dangerously underprepared for emergencies, have serious deficiencies in child protection services and caring for weaker populations, including the elderly.
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In a special chapter on home front preparedness, Lindenstrauss slammed the Interior Ministry, Home Front Command and National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) for failing to prepare local authorities for war and other emergencies, leaving Israelis across the country vulnerable to danger.
The audit, carried out in 2010, also revealed that hundreds of thousands of Israelis lack emergency bomb shelters, many schools and kindergartens do not have adequate bomb protection, shelters in several municipalities lack disabled access and many are poorly equipped.
Lindenstrauss called on all the responsible bodies to cooperate with each other to determine their responsibilities regarding home front security.
The report criticized local authorities for lacking clear guidelines for social workers and for failing to share information about suspected abuse victims, which he said leaves hundreds of children and elderly citizens at risk.
After investigating six municipalities’ child and elderly protection services, the state comptroller concluded that welfare officers are not receiving vital information from the police, hospitals, schools and the general public about suspected abuse or neglect victims.
Lindenstrauss’s audit also exposed several areas of major inequality in the non-Jewish sector, including in recognized Beduin villages in the Negev and in Arab towns.
Road infrastructure in Arab towns and villages is poorly maintained compared with that in Jewish municipalities, the report found.
The state comptroller noted that a disproportionate number of non-Jewish Israelis are killed in traffic accidents, with non-Jewish Israelis constituting 40 percent of road accident victims, despite their being only 20% of the population. Lindenstrauss partly correlated these accident statistics with poor road infrastructure, after finding this was a factor in 25-30% of accidents involving non-Jewish Israelis.
The report noted that while the number of Jewish Israelis killed in traffic accidents dropped by 26% from 2006-2010, for non- Jews the death toll rose by 18%.
An audit of the Abu Basma regional council in the Negev, a new local authority established by the Interior Ministry in 2004 to serve newly recognized Beduin villages, revealed that the authority’s villages receive inadequate public services and have poor infrastructure.
Abu Basma council is responsible for 30,000 residents in 10 recognized communities as well as approximately 50,000 Beduin living in unrecognized villages.
The council only provides water to some of its residents, the audit found, and only one village has a public system for sewage collection in residential buildings and public institutions.
The council does not have a regulated garbage disposal system, so litter usually ends up in open areas or is burned.
The report also found that family health clinics only exist in six villages – and then only in temporary buildings.
Lindenstrauss said that receiving basic services from the state, such as education, health services and adequate living conditions is a basic human right, and that as Israeli citizens Beduin are entitled to the same services as everyone else.