The defense establishment and local authorities have criticized the finance minister following cuts to the budget which they believe, may lead to the cancelation of a major Home Front exercise. Sources within the defense establishment said Friday: "Minister Steinitz is making the same mistake he made with the fire services. One State Comptroller report doesn't seem to be enough."
Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the annual national Home Front exercise would not take place in 2012 due to budget concerns. The annual exercise led by the Home Front Command, includes emergency services like Magen David Adom, the Fire and Rescue Services and government offices.
The variety of participants is due to the fact that the exercise simulates not just missile attacks as it did in the past, but earthquakes and other scenarios as well.
However, the Finance Ministry rejected the criticism: "The defense establishment has received a budget increase of billions of shekels in the 2012 budget. Making threats claiming that the IDF will not be making acquisitions or that exercises will be cancelled is an outrage. This is the biggest budget the Defense Ministry has ever had."
Previous Turning Point exercise (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The exercise named Turning Point has been held since the Second Lebanon War in an effort to improve home front preparedness after drawing lessons from the war five and a half years ago. The exercise usually lasts a few days.
Minister Matan Vilnai has promised to make every effort to find the necessary funds in order to be able to hold the exercise as planned and added that it was "a cornerstone of the national preparedness for emergency situations.
"Its central objective is to improve the State of Israel's preparedness for earthquakes and national disasters, something which has not yet been done, and so I will not give up on holding it due to considerations of sources within the Finance Ministry."
Local authorities have expressed concerns over the cancellation of the exercise. The Chairman of Union of Local Authorities, Shlomo Buchbut warned: "We are starting to go bankrupt; first they decided to cancel orders in periphery city factories, now they want to cancel the exercise in order to force the treasury to increase the budget." Buchbut added that it was time for the prime minister to intervene.
Yoav Zitun contrbuted to the report
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