Constant tension along Israel’s northern and southern borders and intelligence reports about the Hamas and Hezbollah rocket and missile arsenals create a chilling reality in which all regions in Israel are now under threat of attack. The Home Front Command, responsible for protecting the nation’s inhabitants, constantly prepares for the possibility of war and works to assure that local government does everything possible to maintain public shelters – where many citizens, especially those from weaker populations as well as passers-by will have to evacuate in time of emergency. For this reason, the Council for a Beautiful Israel in partnership with the Home Front Command has established a competition that surveys public shelters, evaluates their level of preparedness and encourages local authorities to increase their readiness by maintaining the shelters under their jurisdiction.
During the last year, 350 Beautiful Israel volunteers conducted comprehensive examinations and reviews of nearly 400 shelters in 130 local authorities and in 20 hospitals that provide protected public spaces. The criteria included the presence and condition of fire extinguishing gear, communications equipment and first aid supplies; maintenance of ventilation and plumbing systems; ongoing maintenance and emergency response routines; coordination and cooperation with the Home Front Command; appearance and aesthetic improvements to the structures. This is the second year that the competition has also evaluated the efficiency of emergency information accessibility to the public via social networks and internet sites.
At the awards ceremony, Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Machlouf Dery congratulated the winners, stressing that their preparedness for emergencies contributes, first and foremost, to the security of their residents. Chief of the Home Front Command, Major General Yoel Strick, noted that proper handling of emergencies by the authorities begins with proper preparation. The ongoing security situation in the region has shown that the local authorities that excelled in the previous years’ competitions have demonstrated a high level of operative preparedness in times of emergency, with optimally management of their emergency arrays.
Which cities had the most protected and secure shelters in 2016? These were the winners in various categories:
Haifa (Metropolitan City); Kfar Saba (Large City); Ma’alot Tarshicha (Small City); Har Adar (Local Council); Hof Ha’Carmel (Regional Council); Kibbutz Bror Hayil (Community in Local Council); Kfar Bara (School Shelters).
The outstanding authorities in accessibility of information to the public via on-line chat were: Tel Aviv (Metropolitan City); Ramle (Small City); Efrat (Local Council) and Mateh Binyamin (Regional Council). The Gderot regional council won a certificate of appreciation for significantly promoting its web site’s emergency portal.