Daily Israel Report

Home Front Chief: Mask Distribution Failed

'As a national project, the distribution of gas masks failed,' says Major General Yair Golan. Lack of funding cited.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/4/2010, 8:25 PM / Last Update: 7/4/2010, 8:42 PM

Flash 90

“The distribution of gas masks has failed as a national project,” Home Front Commander Major General Yair Golan said Sunday at the Institute for National Security Studies. "There is no funding today for distribution of the kits to the general population,” he said. “At the very most we will reach 70% of the general population.”

“For the time being we shall continue the distribution but the burden should be passed from the state to the citizen,” he added.

Golan said that the Home Front Command is working on another plan, which will rely on the local authorities to operate public emergency centers in protected spaces. These spaces would also serve as refuges for people whose homes were hit by missiles.

However, Brigadier General Ze'ev Tzuk-Ram, Head of the National Emergency Authority, said that local authority chiefs do not have the means to take care of the safety of their residents either. “There is some sort of disconnect. We have the central government in Jerusalem, there are the districts and the local authority and there is no clear continuity of responsibility from the government to the local authority.”

Tzuk-Ram also blamed the general Israeli mentality for the lack of readiness. People tend to trust that things will work out, rather than actually prepare their families for emergency scenarios, he explained. 

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said that some schools and kindergartens in Ashkelon still have no fortification against attack. “There have not been massive attacks or missile barrages on Ashkelon,” he said. “If we had to operate at several centers (...) simultaneously we would not be able to handle it. We do not have the means.”

The fire brigade, too, he said, is in “catastrophic” shape.