TEL AVIV – Israel’s security cabinet is to blame for the fact that up to half of the population does not have access to proper bomb shelters in the event of rocket attacks, a scathing report by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira released Tuesday claimed.
The investigation, which was launched following Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in 2014 and lasted more than a year, found significant failings on the part of the military and the government in protecting citizens; from shelters and evacuation protocols to rocket detection systems.
According to the report, since the IDF Home Front Command surveyed two million shelters in 2012, there have been no significant plans implemented to provide more. Shapira also noted that, out of those shelters, only a third met the minimum criteria for use. In 2014, the HFC revealed that half of the households on the Golan Heights, and nearly a third of those located around the Lebanese border, had no protective structures of any kind.
The Interior Ministry said that around 50% of the country does not have access to appropriate shelters.
Shapira also slammed the fact that, until June, the security cabinet failed to conduct any discussions on these issues, saying, “We must view with severity the fact that the [security] cabinet did not discuss the issue of protection, detection, warning and evacuation of the population.”
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responded to the report by stating that despite the lack of defense plans for the home front on the part of the security cabinet, there were discussions regarding “active defense” by the IDF, including deploying the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The HFC said in response to the 65-page report that it was mapping all the shelters in Israel and the process is expected to be completed by August 2017.
Nevertheless, despite the IDF’s warnings that nearly a quarter million rockets are currently aimed at Israel from a host of enemies, the comptroller said the military does not have sufficient defense capabilities in place.
In an interview this past summer, Maj. Gen. (res) Yitzhak Gershon, who headed the Home Front Command during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, said that Israel can “expect up to 1,200 rockets in a day” fired into the north in a future war with Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.
Gershon added, “It will be a completely different scenario from anything we’ve known.”
In his report, Shapiro said that while the Iron Dome minimizes damage and even acts as a “deterrent element,” the IDF “must still prepare for the scenario in which thousands, even tens of thousands, of rockets and missiles are fired at Israel during a war-time period, a number of missiles that raise great doubts as to whether the IDF has sufficient means to defend against them.”