Home front command: The attempt to transfer all of the responsibility for the care of the home front to the Home Front Defense Ministry is dangerous. The national security staff: In the 2014 budget there is not even one penny for the procurement of the protective kits, drugs and vaccines.

Today`s (Wednesday) debate in the Subcommittee for Testing the Preparedness of the Home Front, in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee under the auspices of MK Eli Yishai (Shas) did not leave any place for doubt: The Israeli home front, despite the frequent experience of getting hit with thousands of missiles from the north and the south, is very far from being ready for the next round of war, which will certainly come.

At the start of the meeting, Minister of Home Front Defense, Gilad Erdan, remarked that: Our central problem is that the Ministry of Defense and its leader do not place home front defense high up on its list of priorities. The state has virtually created a structure of responsibility and authority sharing in relation to the home front that cannot provide an ideal response in an emergency. The responsibility ultimately lies with the Defense Minister, but in the case of an actual emergency it would be hard for him to respond appropriately.” Erdan also added that ”As of today, there is no clear regulation with respect to the Ministry of Home Front Defense responsibilities. It’s a mess between the officials responsible for home front defense, amongst them, the Ministry of Internal Security, rescue organizations, local authorities, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Home Front Defense. There are an endless amount of arguments and disagreements on how to split authority. These arguments show that the solution suggested today for the home front is not optimal.

The Director of the Ministry of Home Front Defense added that ”At the moment, considering the varied threats on the home front, there needs to be reforms that bring all of the responsibility for the home front to one government office which should be the Ministry of Home Front Defense. As long as this decision is not made the results will be an impaired ability to protect the home front.” The Chief of Staff for the Minister of Home Front Defense, Ziva Igar, said that ”the field agents working today are very confused. In an emergency we have no ability or authority.”

Against the assertions of the Ministry of Home Front Defense, the Chief of Staff of Home Front Command, Brigadier-General Zvika Tessler argued that ”according to the understanding of the IDF, the responsibility for civil defense lies with the Chief of the General Staff and the Minister of Defense. The attempt to transfer all of the responsibility for the care of the home front to the Home Front Defense Ministry is dangerous. For instance, during the Second Lebanon War, when the responsibility for the home front in the north of the country was not in the hands of the IDF and Home Front Command, the result was a failure.” Erdan responded that ”the command structure is confusing building up forces in times of normalcy with using the forces in times of emergency. We don`t intend to command the home front in an emergency or even the police. However, in times of normalcy we are asking for one non-army body that will bridge the gaps and synchronize the actions instead of having multiple bodies.”

The Deputy Chief of Staff for National Security, Zev Tzuk-Ram said ”According to the opinion of the staff, it would be incorrect for the Chief of the General Staff to be concerning himself with missiles falling on the home front in the time of an emergency. In the budget submitted for 2014, there is not even one penny for the procurement of the protective kits, drugs and vaccines. 200 million NIS is needed just to secure the production lines. If we don`t allocate the money, production will cease and it will be very hard to reestablish them.” Committee Chair, Eli Yishai, finished the debate by saying ”We are finishing the debate more perplexed than when we began it. It is clear that it is a mess. The changes that were made, splitting authority in an emergency, created chaos that at the end of the day will paralyze the defense establishment during a crisis. I am walking away from the debate today far more worried than I was. We need to ensure that the Prime Minister makes a decision in the coming days on who should have the responsibility and authority for the home front.”