Comptroller blasts state for defective gas mask distribution

Shapira also criticizes the "Nativ" aliya program for not following its mandate including targeting people with no right to aliya.

IDF soldier fits child with gas mask 370 (photo credit:  	 REUTERS/David Silverman)
IDF soldier fits child with gas mask 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/David Silverman)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Sunday censured the problems the government has been having with ensuring distribution of gas masks on the home front, in the shadow of a possible Syrian attack.
In a recent report and again in a public letter, Shapira drew attention to the shortages, long lines and general inefficiencies that have left many citizens undefended in the event of a chemical weapons attack.
Shapira especially condemned instances in which foreign workers, including those caring for the elderly and the disabled, were refused gas masks by the authorities distributing them.
Separately on Sunday, Shapira criticized the government’s “Nativ” program for problematic connections with Ariel University Center (AUC) and for problems with targeting populations outside of its mandate, disregarding directives on financial issues and transparency.
The program, which deals with immigration and absorption of immigrants to Israel from former Soviet Union countries, is technically under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s Office but is also run by the Foreign Ministry.
Nativ includes both people who are already considered Jewish under Jewish law and those who immigrated to Israel despite being considered non-Jews or with complications as to their status.
Part of the program is designed to increase the immigrants’ identification with Israel and being Jewish.
Regarding AUC, the report said that Nativ had improperly and in an unbalanced way diverted to AUC resources and immigrants with whom it had connections, rather than equally dealing with Israel’s universities.
The report specifically slams the liaisons of the program for ignoring government directives on the population it is targeting, finding that sometimes Nativ has spent funds on residents in FSU countries with neither connection to Israel or the Jewish community nor any possible right to aliya.
Next, the report says that Nativ has cultural programs that raise the suspicion that they do not fulfill their designated purposes but were organized merely to obtain and spend more government funds. Some even appear to encourage or assist immigrants in living or moving to other places besides Israel.
Also, Nativ has not had to justify recent large increases in its budget in any organized way other than to identify programs in which it wishes to spend the funds.
The report also complains about poor coordination with government offices, which in some cases led Nativ to try to run programs already being run by the Foreign Ministry.
Shapira said that Nativ had ignored prior comptroller and government decisions and reports in 1998 and 2007 pushing to better coordinate efforts and information with the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry.
Even where government ministries have policies on the books for oversight of Nativ, the report found that no oversight was actually implemented.
In addition, the report noted Nativ funding expensive foreign trips that were not in line with achieving the program’s goals.
Nativ has existed in some form since 1952, but its resources were heavily increased by the state in 1999, and over the years it has expanded its reach to various European countries as well.
Although a draft of the report was submitted in October 2012 to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee, only Sunday was it first made public.