Sunday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the new national earthquake preparedness drill accompanied by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Home Front Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eizenberg. The Prime Minister was briefed by Maj.-Gen. Eisenberg and observed an exercise in an urban area.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the press:
"I would like to express my appreciation to Defense Minister Barak, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gantz and GOC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Eisenberg. The work that the IDF has been doing on instruction from the Defense Ministry is unique and indeed involves other ministries. I would like to express my appreciation for the work of the Home Front Defense Minister, first Matan Vilnai and now Avi Dichter. We are moving step by step with all government ministries.”
“The uniqueness of this exercise is that in encompasses all government ministries, all of our rescue organizations, all of our systems, and the ability to organize – on a national level – a powerful national event in which we combine together all aspects of administration in Israel, including local governments. I congratulate the Mayor; you certainly know how to organize here a presentation that seems very realistic and I hope that it will not become such. Now, it must be understood that there is a basic difference between such an event and missile and rocket attacks on the home front. The main difference is that in the event of an earthquake, to the extent possible, we want people to exit the buildings and in a missile attack, we want people to go into buildings.
This is a major difference. There is a great difference in the warning. In effect, there is practically no warning for an earthquake. There are warnings, and this is one of things we are doing on the home front, we give warnings in other cases, but here there is a network that is being built from exercise to exercise, we are investing major resources and considerable effort in it, as you see here. I think that this will help us. It is always said that the tougher the training, the easier the battle. It is not clear that this will be so easy in reality but we are preparing ourselves, and the State of Israel is preparing itself for these situations, I think better than any other country in the world.
Again, I would like to express my appreciation to all those who are dealing with the issue, in the Defense Ministry and in other ministries, including the Health Ministry and all other government ministries that have been involved.
There is one thing that I must say, that arises from the reviews that we received today at the Cabinet meeting and here in the field. Regarding earthquakes, we will have to take the main form of preventive action and this involves major reconstruction programs in older neighborhoods in city centers. This is perhaps the main thing that we can do because we see that when there is new construction, the problem is much less serious and survival is much more significant. Therefore, there is something that we need to do between the exercises – rebuild our city centers with new construction."