Hundreds of thousands in northern Israel without protection from missiles
New report illustrates local residents' vulnerability in event of attack, while plans to fortify residential buildings and build bomb shelters were put on hold; Liberman slams stalling of protection plan he devised, calling it 'madness'
A recent report depicts an ominous situation in which hundreds of thousands of people living in northern Israel have no way to protect themselves in the event of a missile attack, other than lying down on the ground and sheltering themselves with their hands.
The report was published by the Israel Builders Association and was based off data provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics. It paints a grim picture of the state of fortification of residential homes in northern Israel, where more than 800,000 civilians don't have a bomb shelter or a secure space.
The analysis was published in the wake of recent events on the Lebanese border, which have heightened the fear of escalation in violence against Hezbollah, peaking on Sunday when Hezbollah fired several anti-tank missiles at an IDF base in the area of Moshav Avivim.
While the government approved a NIS 5 billion security plan a year ago, nothing happened in practice. As a result of the heightened tensions on the Lebanese border, local leaders in northern Israel are demanding the government implement the stalled fortification program.
The issue of residential home fortification in conflict zones has been on the government's agenda in recent years, approving a plan that included aid in construction of bomb shelters at residential homes after the 2014 military campaign in Gaza.
The Ministry of Construction and Housing and the National Emergency Authority were entrusted with forming a plan to remove any restrictions on construction, with the aim of facilitating the construction of bomb shelters and other protection solutions in residential buildings, while taking funding, planning and licensing into account.
However, about three months after the decision was passed, the team was disbanded due to the 2015 elections and then reassembled during the tenure of the following government.
An additional plan was published back in May 2018 by then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman and included fortification of buildings in northern communities up to 45 km from the Lebanese border. The plan was later canceled.
Liberman slammed the cancelation of the plan on Monday, calling it "madness."
"I'm sorry to say that my security plan for northern communities was canceled," said the Yisrael Beytenu leader. "Hezbollah is devoted to obtaining precision-guided missile technology and it is not going to give up.
"That is why the cancelation of my plan is like abandoning the civilians. The fact that the plan was brought to a halt is madness."