The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Avi Dichter (Likud), marked a decade since the Second Lebanon War with a debate on the lessons learned from the conflict and the home front`s preparedness for a possible war in the future.
Brig. Gen. Dedi Simchi, chief of staff for the IDF`s Home Front Command, said an ”excellent culture of emergency has developed in the national home front, with the National Emergency Authority being on charge of the government offices` preparedness and the Home Front Command being in charge of the preparedness of the local authorities.
Simchi noted that of the 257 local authorities, 235 will be able to handle – with varying degrees of success – a future emergency situation.
(Committee Chairman Avi Dichter)
MK Dichter said it is unacceptable that 21 percent of Israel`s residents live in local authorities that are expected to find it hard to function during an emergency or will not be able to function at all.
Simchi noted that most of these local authorities are Arab authorities located in northern Israel which have a hard time functioning in normal times, adding that most local authorities located along the northern border and in the Gaza vicinity function at the highest level.
The Home Front Command chief said that by 2018 there will be some 3,000 areas where there will be a siren that will sound in case of an emergency. ”This will give the citizens a very precise warning,” he said.
MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Camp) said a conflict in the north ”is almost inevitable” but the region ”is not prepared for a war with 1,200-1,500 missiles falling daily.”
”The situation in the Arab local authorities is one big mishap, and they are not prepared for anything,” he said. ”The army has learned a lot from the Lebanon war, but the civilian home front [has not moved forward] in this regard. The conflict will not begin tomorrow morning, so there is an opportunity now to develop a five-year plan for fortification. If we do not leave here with this demand, we are a part of the future fiasco.”
Brig. Gen. Simchi said the Home Front Command has presented recommendations to ”narrow the fortification gaps.”
MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) said the government must budget plans for fortification and the evacuation of civilians, if needed. ”A war can – God forbid – leave us with thousands of people killed and damage to infrastructure to such an extent that we will have a hard time recuperating,” he stated. ”If we will not invest five billion shekels in fortification, we will sustain 50 billion shekel`s worth of damage.”
Committee Chairman Dichter lauded the Home Front Command for drawing the necessary conclusions immediately after the war, and said the issue of the local authorities` preparedness for a future conflict must be addressed.
”We must not leave question marks that will be exposed only in an emergency,” he said, adding that ”Hezbollah`s current [dire situation] gives us time to prepare the north, and this must guide us from an operational perspective.”