Three-and-a-half years have passed since the Second Lebanon War, and Tuesday morning saw the end of a project for the renovation and restoration of bomb shelters in northern Israel in a festive ceremony.
The Prime Minister's Office and the Defense Ministry invested NIS 96 million (roughly $25.27 million) in the renovation of 3,019 public shelters. An additional 1,838 joint shelters were renovated by the administration for the restoration of the North and the Amigour company.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said that in the event of another military operation, the fighting will not only be felt near Israel's borders, but throughout the entire country. "We are building the State of Israel's civilian front," he said, "A war only on the military front, as in the Yom Kippur War - not involving the civilian population – will not reoccur."
The minister added that, "the best war is one that is prevented, because if there is a war, it will reach every part of the State of Israel."
Vilnai slammed the proposed budget cuts in communities on the confrontation lines and said, "It is unreasonable and unfathomable that they are trying to take away from grants to authorities in the periphery. These towns are located around the state's borders and determine how the State of Israel looks."
Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office also noted the importance of supporting periphery communities. "The recent conflicts have proven the strength of the communities along the border. It is the State's responsibility to change the perception, and the places that have been ignored will be made a top priority."
Gabai added that the government plans to invest tens of billions of shekels in reinforcing infrastructure in the periphery, which he said would "change the lives of the residents of the Galilee and the Negev within 10 years."
Head of Shlomi Local Council Gabi Naaman warned that the calm in the north in recent years could lead to complacency with regards to the continued restoration of shelters.
"We must not forget that the confrontation line has not disappeared, or that, alongside the economic and professional threats, there is still a security threat that is demonstrated with a Katyusha attack on the northern communities from time to time," he said.