The State Comptroller, retired judge Yosef Shapira, published a report Tuesday on “preparations for defending the home front against the threat of missiles and rockets.” In the report, Shapira found “gaps, some of them significant, in preparations for physical defenses, early warning systems and evacuation of the civilian population during a combat event.”
Shapira also included a section on the fires that struck large parts of the country in November and how it highlighted the dangers and challenges facing the civilian population in emergency situations. For example, the need to evacuate tens of thousands of civilians from neighborhoods highlighted the complexities involved in such an undertaking.
Regarding the involvement of the political echelon, the comptroller noted that in June 2014, the government decided that the minister of defense, in cooperation with relevant offices and officials, would formulate and present a plan to the government by November of that same year.
The plan was meant to be multi-year and take all types of emergencies into consideration. In October 2014, shortly before the deadline for submitting the plan, the government decided to postpone the date for presentation until February 2015.
According to Shapira, as of July 2016, a plan has still not been presented to the government and additionally, distribution of authority and responsibilities has not been divided among the ministry of public security and the ministry of the interior.
Furthermore, a lack of cooperation between the National Security Council (NSC) and the Ministry of Defense has impaired the government’s readiness for emergency situations.
Regarding physical protection for residents and structures, the comptroller’s report noted that during fighting, residents in areas under continuous fire will have difficulty getting to shelters in the time period specified by the home front command. Moreover, many of public shelters are not designed for extended stays.
In summarizing the report, Shapira noted that while the preparedness of the home front command and the civil defense has improved, there are still significant gaps in physical defenses such as shelters, warning systems and evacuation of civilians from areas affected by fighting. These gaps are biggest in areas near the north, which are expected to be under heavy fire in the most likely of war scenarios.
In response to the report, the IDF commented, “The IDF welcomes the comptroller’s report, will study the main points and will generate the necessary lessons. The home front command will continue to work with state institutions in order to prepare the citizens of Israel for a variety of emergency situations.”