The cabinet decided Monday to assemble a joint team to formulate a NIS 5 billion plan to protect the home front and to improve emergencies and earthquakes preparedness.
The program, which was presented by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, will be ready for approval within 60 days and will be implemented between 2019-2030
Israel's security cabinet visited the Home Front Command and discussed the civilian home front's readiness for emergencies.
During the visit, which was planned in advance, the cabinet members were briefed on preparedness for security emergencies and earthquakes
Headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the cabinet decided to set up a joint team under the guidance of the National Security Council with the participation of other government ministries.
In addition, the cabinet instructed the treasury budget director and the director-general of the Defense Ministry to vote within 21 days on a budget of NIS 500 million for the purpose of protecting public and residential buildings and preparing additional safety measures, in accordance with this year's Home Front Command's priorities.
Lieberman, who dubbed the plan 'Shield of the Home Front', said that the "plan is underway, and NIS 500 million will get us started. The Home Front Command and the Ministry of Defense are entrusted with implementing it."
Lieberman thanked the prime minister and the minister of finance for "their trust in the defense system", and added that the plan constitutes a "historic decision for the residents of the north, for the cities on the Syrian-African rift and for the entire Israeli home front."
The costly program is supposed to provide a solution to the home front's protection needs, with an emphasis on protecting citizens, securing essential services, withstanding earthquakes, and the continuous functionality of Israel's northern region.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon addressed the program during his Kulanu party meeting, gailing it as "a large-scale program, one of the largest in Israel."
"The plan will include the protection of public buildings, hospitals, educational institutions, public shelters and the state's participation in the construction of residential secure spaces," Kahlon said.
"The program will be integrated with the Home Front Command and will include preparedness for earthquakes and missile defense. Right now we will start working on legislation that will facilitate regulation and bureaucracy", he told his party members.
"We will bring the source of the NIS 500 million", the minister added. Plans for the remainder of the budget will be discussed in a different committee that will present a plan to the cabinet within 60 days.
The 'Shield of the Home Front' plan will focus on places which are highly exposed to risks of earthquakes. These include 300 northern local authorities within 45 kilometers of the border, and six cities situated on the Syrian-African rift.
The program will also include assistance in the construction of residential secure rooms for every citizen up to 45 kilometers from the northern border.
In addition, the plan will include protecting critical infrastructure throughout the northern region, reinforcing essential services in the north—including some 800 schools and kindergartens, and about 65 welfare institutions—fortifying the large hospitals in the north, and dozens of clinics within 45 kilometers of the border.
The heads of northern communities praised the initiative. "After Minister of Finance Kahlon promised us last week that the plan will be approved and implemented as soon as possible, we were delighted to see that things are progressing as promised," said Mayor of Ma'alot-Tarshiha Shlomo Bohbot. "We are dealing with a costly budget of billions that is vital to both northern and southern residents."
Eli Malka, Head of the Golan Regional Council, also praised the multi-year program. "This is a significant strategic decision for Israel's northern communities. The plan will enable the government and the IDF to run Israel's defense systems while citizens are properly protected," he said.
"Protection is a significant part of building the resilience of the civilian home front against the challenges and changes taking place on the northern border. We, the heads of municipalities, will implement the plan quickly and efficiently," Malka concluded.