(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today (Wednesday), 29 August 2007, convened the Security Cabinet in order to discuss home front preparations for emergencies. Ministers were briefed by representatives of various government ministries and other relevant bodies.

GOC Home front Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Gershon briefed ministers on preparations for the start of the academic year in the area around the Gaza Strip. Regarding reinforcing educational institutions, he said that it would be possible to open the school year in Sderot and in other communities near the Gaza Strip without any problems. He noted that there was a surplus of reinforced classrooms, and not a shortage. There are 164 reinforced classrooms in Sderot even though only 133 are needed. Similarly, there are 200 classrooms in the adjacent regional council areas, even though only 176 are necessary.

Maj.-Gen. Gershon added that there were two localized problems at two educational institutions in Sderot: No appropriate solution has been found for the Yesod Hatorah elementary school; therefore, students will learn in the nearby reinforced Hazon Yehezkel school. The religious girls’ secondary school is short one reinforced classroom; a temporary solution has been found until completion of work on the classroom after the upcoming holidays.

The state has invested considerable sums in reinforcing 135 out of 173 kindergartens. The reinforcement of an additional ten kindergartens is due to be completed by the beginning of September and another 16 by the end of the year.

With the start of the school year next week IDF Home Front Command soldiers will escort the children of Sderot and the communities around the Gaza Strip to their schools, will offer assistance in the schools themselves and will escort the children home at the end of the school day. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai announced that school bus stops in Sderot and the communities around the Gaza Strip will soon be reinforced.

The Security Cabinet was also briefed regarding progress in the renovation of bomb shelters in the north. The Prime Minister’s Office, via the Defense Ministry, has started a process in which approximately 3,300 public bomb shelters, from the Amiad-Acre line in the west to the city of Tiberias and the Golan Heights in the east, will be renovated. The goal is to make these shelters inhabitable for extended periods in reasonable conditions. The work is scheduled to be completed by February 2008; 52 shelters have already renovated. Additionally, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is involved with the renovation of over 2,500 bomb shelters located in apartment buildings. Renovations are due to be completed circa July 2008.