(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ra’anan Dinur, Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buchri, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Avi Yisraeli, Education Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav, Interior Ministry Director-General Aryeh Bar and Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry Director-General Nahum Itskovitz  today (Wednesday), 11 July 2007, held a press briefing on Government actions in the past year regarding home front readiness and the strengthening and rehabilitation of communities in the north.

Home front readiness:

The relevant authorities have completed preparations for dealing with the home front in a substantially different manner than was the case last year.

  • A project to upgrade approximately 3,000 public shelters north of the Acre-Amiad line is underway, in addition to regular maintenance by the local councils.
  • During the escalation in Sderot, the Defense Ministry hosted approximately 3,000 residents for short vacations, at state expense and as part of the implementation of the lessons.
  • Home Front Command liaison units have been established with the local councils in order to reinforce them in emergencies. Gaps in the network of public sirens have been closed at an investment of millions of shekels. Funds have been invested in upgrading local council emergency control centers.
  • The Interior Ministry has approved regulations removing obstacles in licensing home protection.
  • The Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry has trained local council emergency staffs.

It was decided that the Defense Ministry would coordinate home front affairs as a whole; staff work to this effect has been submitted to the Government. 

Rehabilitating and strengthening the north:

  • NIS 3.2 billion has been paid in compensation. A NIS 2.8 billion plan to strengthen the north is being implemented.
  • The Employment Service reports that the number of jobseekers in the north has declined by 0.4% in the past year. The number of those seeking work in Kiryat Shmona has declined by 1.2% to 3.1% – lower than the national average.
  • The Health Ministry has set up five centers to treat shock.
  • The Education Ministry is implementing a plan in which – inter alia – children in the north are going to special summer camps.
  • The Interior Ministry has allocated up to NIS 600 million to local councils in the north.
  • Funds have been invested in educational institutions and sports facilities in the north. 32% of the budget has been invested in the Arab sector.