As IDF determined the main area under threat of enemy missiles are the communities located up to 25 miles from Israel’s border with Lebanon, public bomb-shelters are to be renovated in 21 municipalities and local authorities, at a sum expected in the tens of millions of shekels.
BY Lilach Shoval
The defense establishment plans to renovate hundreds of public shelters in northern Israel, especially in communities located up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Israeli-Lebanese border.
The plan, set to begin this summer and conclude by the summer of 2018, will cost tens of millions of shekels and include 21 municipalities and local authorities, a defense official familiar with the issue said Saturday.
The Interior Ministry and GOC Homefront Command Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai approved the plan’s outline last week. The renovations will be paid for via the civilian defense budget, which the Interior Ministry will make available to the Homefront Command.
The decision to renovate public shelters in communities 25 miles from the northern border was made following a situation assessment by the defense establishment, which concluded that this was the main area under threat of enemy projectiles.
One of the lessons of the 2006 Second Lebanon War was that, given Hezbollah’s missile arsenal, a future war with Lebanon would mean that the area’s residents could spend days — perhaps even weeks — in shelters. The 2006 conflict saw many cases where public shelters were so neglected they were barely usable, and the Homefront Command wants to prevent a similar situation in the future.
Homefront Command data shows that there are currently only 12,000 public shelters across the country, 3,000 of which suffer from severe neglect. Of those, 300 are in communities located within 25 miles from the northern border.
The last time a large-scale public shelter renovation was pursued was in 2007, about a year after the Second Lebanon War, but a review by the Homefront Command has found that in the decade since, some municipalities have failed to invest the necessary resources into shelter maintenance. As a result, some of the shelters have again been rendered unusable while others have been vandalized by local residents who made private use of the facilities.
The Defense Ministry’s Engineering and Construction Department and the Homefront Command plan to issue a tender for the shelters’ renovation project in the coming weeks.
The Homefront Command estimates the cost of renovating an average shelter is about NIS 100,000 ($28,000), but according to its data, some 10% of Israel’s municipalities have failed to allocate the proper funds for this effort. The data shows that poorer local authorities, especially non-Jewish ones, use their civilian defense funds for other purposes.
Israel Hayom asked the Homefront Command for a list of the municipalities misusing their civilian defense funds, but was denied.
In an effort to fight this phenomenon, the Interior Ministry and Homefront Command said they plan to impose financial sanctions on municipalities that misuse their emergency readiness funds.
According to this plan, should a local authority fail to properly use its civilian defense funds in a given year, the Interior Ministry will deduct that amount from its budget the following year.
“The State of Israel is taking a big step on behalf of its residents where the local authorities have failed to realize their responsibility,” a senior defense official told Israel Hayom. “The Homefront Command has the authority to tell municipalities, ‘You have to maintain these shelters, and if you don’t you will be penalized.'”
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