PM Netanyahu: No other government has invested so much in defending the home front from two basic threats: The first is the threat of missiles and rockets. The second threat is that of earthquakes

 Cabinet communique

 

Israel Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 21 October 2012):

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"Today, we are starting a national drill to deal with earthquakes. No other government has invested so much in defending the home front from two basic threats: The first is the threat of missiles and rockets. The second threat is that of earthquakes – a very considerable investment and much work, which Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter will soon detail.

I would like to make it clear that we still have many plans and much work yet before us because I want Israeli citizens to be protected, and this is in our hands. We are putting this into practice.

Second, the Consumer Price Index was published after the holidays and there was a surprise because everyone expected that it would go up, but it did not. It did not because – inter alia – hundreds of thousands of children are starting free education from age 3, which saves their families hundreds of shekels a month. There are other things that we have done, such as free dental care up to age 12, the reform of the cellular communications market, which also saves families hundreds of shekels a month.

What we did in the cellular communications market, we will do in the food sector, and we will start discussions about this today. This is precisely the direction that we want to go in, to make these markets more competitive and thereby lower prices to the consumer.

Third, I would like to make it clear that we are building in Jerusalem. We are not placing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem. It is our capital. Just as there is construction in every capital, in London, Paris, Washington and Moscow, Israel is building in Jerusalem. We have a link no less ancient and no less strong to our capital, and this is an understatement."

Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter made the following remarks:

"In another 30 minutes, at 11:00, there will be a siren on all media channels, television and radio, there will also be an attempt to send text messages to all media providers announcing an earthquake (simulated, of course).

Of course, in reality, there is no ability to sound a warning. An early warning capability is being built, but it will not be so generous. It will be between 10 and 30 seconds, that is not a little, but in most cases it will not be enough.

This earthquake scenario has been formulated by a professional team led by Minister Benny Begin, who chairs the Ministerial Committee on Earthquakes. We have received instructions from it, as well as from the Home Front Defense Ministry, the Public Security Ministry and the Defense Ministry. In effect, all state bodies and Government ministries are holding drills – the Defense Ministry, the IDF (including Home Front Command), the Public Security Ministry, the Israel Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and others. Very dominant Government ministries, beginning with the education system in the Education Ministry and including other ministries, even the Finance Ministry, are holding drills.

At 11:00 and at 19:00, everyone in the country will have the opportunity to practice on the issue of earthquakes. We must educate ourselves contrary to what we have been taught in recent years – We are used to being told to enter into closed spaces in a missile or rocket attack, and here we must become used to doing the opposite, to go out. I believe that we will practice this here at the Cabinet meeting, at 11:00. We are part of the public that is participating in the drill.

The goal is to succeed in building a culture of earthquake preparedness, a culture of tsunami preparedness; I believe that every citizen in the State of Israel who hears the word ‘tsunami’ immediately thinks about Japan or Thailand.

In the end, this goal is in the absence of the ability to prevent natural disasters. The intention is to prevent a situation in which a disaster becomes a catastrophe and, in other words, when the earth shakes, the state, and certainly the authorities and the public, will not shake with it."

2. Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter and Home Front Defense Ministry Director-General Gabi Ofir briefed ministers on the Turning Point 6 earthquake preparedness drill, which begins today and is due to continue for one week.

Minister Benny Begin, who chairs the Ministerial Committee on Earthquakes Preparedness, discussed the issues of projected damage, earthquake-prone areas and the need to reinforce structures.

Ministers and all those present exited the Cabinet room at 11:00   upon being notified – in the framework of the exercise – that an earthquake had occurred. The Cabinet resumed its discussions 15 minutes later.

3. The Cabinet, today (Sunday, 21 October 2012), approved a decision to implement the recommendations of the team that evaluated prices and the level of competitiveness in the food sector.

4. The Cabinet approved a series of measures to increase efficiency in the dairy sector.

5. The Cabinet authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve draft legislation to extend the terms of the chief rabbis until after elections to the 19th Knesset.