State Comptroller to Investigate Storm Response
At a conference on Wednesday, State Comptroller Judge (ret.) Yosef Shapira said of the snowstorm this past weekend that "whoever walks around the Jerusalem streets sees the situation isn't white, it's black."
Shapira's critical comments, made at an annual Tel Aviv conference, come as his office is poised to investigate mismanagement in handling the storm.
"This wasn't a sudden incident, before the storm began it was possible to anticipate its magnitude according to weather reports," noted Shapira, who reaffirmed his intentions to examine the preparedness of various state authorities, in dealing with sudden unforeseen incidents as well.
Stressing the serious nature of mismanagement, Shapira said "this time the storm was white, but it could be a storm of rockets."
While "all of the nation of Israel faced difficulties from the storm," Shapira highlighted populations in poverty that had it much harder. "It pains the heart to see elderly and children freezing from cold with no one to save them," he said, adding that responses must not overlook weaker socio-economic groups "that are often left at the side of the road in events like this."
Shapira's comment comes a day after MK Aryeh Deri, head of the Shas party, harshly criticized the government's handling of the storm.
"The government failed when it came to the snow storm, and now it is failing regarding the poverty storm," Deri said, in a reference to the 1.7 million Israelis living under the poverty line.
While Shapira had been criticized for announcing his intentions to investigate the government's deployment during the storm itself, he defended the move, saying the current incident wasn't the first report concerning deployment and appropriation between governmental authorities.
After consulting as to whether the statement should be issued during the storm or after, "we reached the conclusion that it must be said clearly and note which bodies must be checked. Our statement had an impact on the authorities in real time at the right moment," stated Shapira.
The Comptroller added "someone with a governmental post doesn't have to ask a governmental minister 'do me a favor, send me a car.' Everything must be coordinated in advance in an organized fashion with a clear work plan for emergency situations."
Others have similarly criticized the government's 'failure' in handling the storm, including members of the ruling coalition.
On Tuesday a special Knesset hearing of the Committee for Internal Affairs was held, in which assessments critical of the storm management were made.
MK Miri Regev (Likud), who heads the committee, opening the hearing by saying "Jerusalem was under siege for four days. In modern times this does not seem logical to me."
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Israel Electric Company (IEC) fired two engineering directors that stayed at a conference in southern resort town Eilat instead of returning to help deal with the storm.