J'lem lacks bomb shelters; residents not worried

Informal street survey finds older neighborhoods of the capital don't have enough bomb shelters, but residents are nonchalant.

Israelis in Bomb Shelter (photo credit: Amir Cohen / Reuters)
Israelis in Bomb Shelter
(photo credit: Amir Cohen / Reuters)
Jerusalem does not have enough public bomb shelters in older neighborhoods, but that doesn’t really bother residents of those neighborhoods, The Jerusalem Post found during an informal survey judging the city’s readiness for emergency situations.
According to a municipality spokeswoman, there are approximately 200 public bomb shelters concentrated in the city center, and south of the city. Newer neighborhoods, including Ramot, Gilo, Pisgat Zeev, and Ramat Eshkol, are better prepared because later zoning laws required contractors to build bomb shelters within new buildings.
Even newer buildings now require steel-reinforced “safe rooms” in each apartment.
City Councilor Elisha Peleg (Likud), who holds the Security, Emergency Services, and Fire and Rescue portfolio, said there are not enough bomb shelters for Jerusalem residents and many of the bomb shelters need to be renovated and improved. He compared this to the fact that there are also not enough gas masks for all Israelis due to budget shortfalls.
“There are shelters and areas that aren’t in good shape,” he said. “It’s about the order of preferences and budget and the amount of money we have for development in the security division.”
Nevertheless, said Peleg, the Council for a Beautiful Israel recently awarded the municipality four stars for the maintenance of public bomb shelters.
All public bomb shelters that are not in use as synagogues or community centers are locked to prevent misuse, and avoid residents’ use of them for storage or local teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol in them.
Peleg said that in the event of an emergency, municipality workers who are responsible for the maintenance of the bomb shelters are to make the rounds of the city, unlocking all the bomb shelters. This process, he said, could take a number of hours.
Despite the negatives, residents of the older neighborhoods were nonchalant.
“In Jerusalem, there will never be a war,” said Vitaly Ustinor, a 22-year resident of Nahlaot, as he took a cigarette break next to a locked bomb shelter. “There are Muslim holy sites. Who would shoot missiles here?” Ustinor said that in the unlikely event of war, he expected it to be like the Scud missiles of the 90s, which fell mainly in the Tel Aviv area.
Five-year Nahlahot resident Hillel Cohen was like most residents, who didn’t even know where the bomb shelter closest to his apartment is located.
“I’ve never been inside and I’m not even sure where it is,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me that there may not be enough [bomb shelters], I’m not worried, I trust in God.”