Unequal Sharing of the Home Front Burden

YERUSHALAYIM -

The poor in Israel are more exposed to rocket attacks than the affluent members of society, said Homeland Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday.

Erdan decried what he called an “intolerable gap” between Israelis who have access to safe zones in modern apartment buildings and poorer people who often do not even have access to nearby functioning bomb shelters, according to The Jerusalem Post.

“A third of Israeli residents have no protection at all — no safe zones in their apartment, no bomb shelters in their buildings, and no functioning public shelters nearby,” Erdan said. “This is an intolerable gap.

“We are searching for creative solutions. We’ve set up an inter-ministerial committee to overcome budgetary and bureaucratic hurdles to finding solutions,” he added, in remarks made during a conference on homeland security held by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.

Those who live in buildings built from 1992 onward have protection from rockets, but many others do not. Erdan lamented the fact that the missile protection gap has remained unchanged since the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Solutions include government subsidies to install protective measures in apartments or staircases, Erdan said.

The minister’s assessment of emergency response capability in general was rather bleak compared to what the average citizen would be led to believe by the various official proclamations of the success of recent drills.

In an all-out war, Erdan said, “the enemy will try to fire a maximum number of rockets in the first days. It knows the IDF will try to extinguish rocket fire very quickly. I don’t think the Home Front Command can respond in many local councils [at the same time]. It’s the local councils that must do this. Hence, they have a very important role in preparations.”

Any future conflict would involve a wider scope in incoming Hizbullah projectiles, their range, and their ability to inflict damage, with some projectiles carrying warheads of hundreds of kilograms of explosives, Erdan warned.

“There’s a [higher] level of accuracy in a growing number of projectiles, and there is no effective way to stop the development and arrival of these weapons. We have to take vital infrastructure into consideration; otherwise it will be difficult to maintain operational continuity in a future war,” he said.

“The home front is still not ready, not physically and not budget-wise, not in terms of legislation or regulation, for the scenario that the IDF is talking about. Even after we activate all our capabilities and our active defense, many missiles will still fall on the home front,” Erdan said.

However, the extent of the threat and the need for greater funding of home-front defenses was contested by the director of the INSS, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, a former military intelligence chief.

Yadlin said the figure of 200,000 rockets and missiles pointed at Israel exaggerated the threat, noting that most of the projectiles were short-range and inaccurate. “We must put this threat in proportion,” he said.

“It’s wrong to invest billions in home-front defenses. This is not how to win war,” Yadlin added.