'It's a free-for-all in the West Bank,' says Shapira

State Comptroller publishes report on IDF, Defense Ministry, settlements and military-industrial sector.

Home Front Command earthquake drill (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Home Front Command earthquake drill
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Wednesday published a report on issues relating to the IDF, the Defense Ministry, the West Bank and the military-industrial sector. The report focuses on issues ranging from the readiness of the home front in the event of an attack to pollution of the environment due to lack of oversight by the responsible government authorities.
Shapira handed the report to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at 9:15 a.m.
In the fourth chapter of the new report, titled “Readiness in Time of Emergency,” the comptroller found Israel must step up efforts to consolidate home front preparedness efforts under a single body, in order to better ensure that Israel is able to protect its “essential national infrastructure” in times of emergency.
The report states that while the Home Front Defense Ministry was meant to improve readiness, it has instead added to the lack of clarity on who is responsible for what in times of emergency.
Due to insufficient amount of protective gear distributed to the public, the government must, as soon as possible, assess how to better distribute the gear, the report states.
The government must work quickly to ensure that the cellular system used to inform Israelis in time of emergency is up to speed, according to the chapter.
In a section evaluating the environmental performance of Israel Military Industries and Israel Aerospace Industries, the state comptroller slammed these two companies as well as relevant government authorities for allowing contaminants from their factories to continually infect area soil and groundwater – stressing that these behaviors constitute a grave public health and environmental hazard.
Specifically, the comptroller criticized IMI for failing to evacuate and clean up an abandoned site of theirs in Haifa. Meanwhile, an IMI plant in Givon has been releasing the toxin perchlorate for years into its surrounding soil and continues to pose a risk to drinking water in Rehovot as well as regional orange groves, the audit said.
Despite an awareness of the situation, the Water Authority, Environmental Protection Ministry, Health Ministry and Agriculture Ministry have done little to curb the dangers, it said.
As far as IAI is concerned, the state comptroller criticized the company for allowing contaminants from its operational units to pollute the Ben-Gurion Airport sewage treatment facility – a circumstance for which the audit censured the Environment Ministry.
Regarding the West Bank, the report said that there are significant deficiencies between authorities dealing with illegal construction, theft of water, illegally permitting Palestinians to be present in Israeli towns and traffic law enforcement.
The report complained that it appeared that in the West Bank there is an atmosphere of “every man does what is right in his own eyes.”
It blasted the absence of criminal investigations into illegal settler building and said that the lack of manpower for collecting lease fees meant that half-a-billion shekels have been lost annually from failure to collect fees.
According to the report, 87 Jewish settlements have failed to pay fees and 95 percent of Palestinians who rent from Israel have not paid fees.
The report discusses defects in oversight over weapons exports, such as failure to inspect weapons exports for compliance with both domestic and international standards and failure to enforce rules regarding violations.
It said that aspects of the Defense Ministry’s involvement slow down the process of exporting weapons.
While the report credited the Defense Ministry with improving its oversight of its own budget and coordinating its budget with the Finance Ministry, it still indicated that there were deficiencies and needed improvement in these areas.
Another chapter discusses defects in the state’s coordination between agencies dealing with missile defense, while another chapter addresses aspects of the state’s Atomic Energy Agency, though that chapter is classified and was not distributed to the press or the public.
One of the more embarrassing statistics reported was that the state is paying millions of shekels per year to cover parking tickets for illegal parking by IDF personnel.
Other topics covered by the court include problems with the IDF’s system for court martials, the IDF’s provision of dental services, loose supervision of the use of defense establishment vehicles for personal means and information security lapses in a number of agencies.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.