(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today (Sunday), 27 August 2006, held a discussion on the Government’s preparedness for emergency situations, on the basis of the lessons of the recent campaign in the north. Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ra’anan Dinur submitted the recommendations that were formulated by staff work in the PMO.  It was recommended, inter alia, that the state provide residents who stay in shelters for a prolonged time with goods and services that will be defined as "essential", including food and medicines. The government will also encourage the activity of private sector organizations during emergency situations but these will only provide additional services that are not defined as essential.

Prime Minister Olmert instructed the IDF Home Front Command to appoint an officer for every city in Israel, with preference for cities in the north.  The officer will coordinate home front assistance activities in emergency situations, and respond in situations in which the local authority finds it difficult to provide emergency services. The Prime Minister further instructed Interior Minister Ronni Bar-On to assure that all shelters in residential buildings be properly maintained. Local authority by-laws will be applied as necessary. Prime Minister Olmert said: "Every citizen must know that that the shelter in his home meets the specifications."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said: "Local mayors are the key to emergency preparedness," but added that Home Front Command personnel should be integrated into municipal administration management in emergency situations. He called for the authority of mayors to resolve the issue of private shelters in common buildings to be increased. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter added, "It must be realized that mayors are mini-prime ministers in their cities."

In accordance with recommendations submitted to him, Prime Minister Olmert directed that every city in Israel have a municipal control center during emergencies. The local authorities will establish/bolster these centers under the supervision and with the professional assistance of the IDF Home Front Command. The IDF Home Front Command has also been requested to carry out emergency situation preparedness exercises, the dates and scope of which will be decided on separately.

The National Security Council has been requested to submit, within 60 days, detailed recommendations on the preparedness of organizations that deal with civil defense, including a reconsideration of the division of responsibilities between the various relevant bodies.