Samaria town
Samaria townIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Samaria (Shomron) is ready to do its part in case of war, Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika announced this weekend. He told senior Home Front officers that his region is prepared to absorb tens of thousands of civilians in case of war.

The plan to use Samaria as a refuge was developed some time ago. Three years ago, Mesika told then-Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai that the region could take in up to 530,000 evacuees.

His idea became a Home Front plan of action, and has now been practiced in multiple drills.

Samaria has served as an unofficial safe haven in wartime through multiple conflicts. The region took in evacuees from central Israel during the Gulf War, those fleeing the north during the Second Lebanon War, and those seeking safety from Hamas rockets during Operation Cast Lead.

“The plan takes into account Samaria’s hospitality ability, and relies on Samaria’s basic advantages,”  said advisor Yossi Dagan, who heads the strategic unit tasked with putting the plan together. “The foremost advantage is the population distribution in Samaria, compared to the population density along the coast – a key risk factor in rocket fire.”

The second advantage is Samaria’s location in the mountains, overlooking its surroundings, he said. The third is the short travel time from the region to most of the rest of the country, which would allow civilians to take up temporary residence in the region while continuing to work as usual.