Israel Police's Financial Fraud Unit has arrested a number of contractors and professionals in the construction field on suspicion that they had bribed an engineer who works for the IDF's Home Front Command to authorize faulty shelters built in apartment buildings in south Israel, Ynet reported Friday.
It is suspected that the engineer, who was also arrested, approved the shelters despite their flawed construction.
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Israel's southern region is frequently targeted by rockets fired from Gaza. In the event of such attacks, civilians are instructed to enter secure rooms or shelters.
Police said the alleged approval of defective shelters had jeopardized civilians' lives.
Over the past few months Fraud Unit investigators have received information indicating that the shelters failed to comply with construction regulations and that a number of contractors who specialize in shelters were permitted to use substandard materials.
According to investigators, the contractors were also given leeway with regards to the installment and positioning of windows, doors and exits as a means of cutting costs.
The structures were approved despite these deficiencies, police said.
All buildings must be approved by the Home Front Command and the authorities before they are populated.
The suspects have been under police surveillance over the past few weeks, and some of them were arrested on Thursday.
A number of suspects were released under restricted conditions after they cooperated with investigators, but police will ask the Petah Tikva Magistrates' Court to extend the remand of the remaining suspects.
About five years ago the government decided to construct shelters in old apartment buildings located in areas that suffer from frequent Qassam rocket attacks. However, a Home Front Command report that was obtained by Ynet last year said the south was not prepared for a massive rocket attack emanating from Gaza.
The IDF said the investigation was initiated by senior Home Front Command officers a few months ago. "The command places a lot of importance on citizens' preparedness for a state of emergency. Due to suspicions that certain offenses related to the approval of shelters were committed, the investigation was transferred to Military Police. Because these offenses put civilian lives at risk, Israel Police also investigated," the IDF's Spokesperson's Unit said.
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