The beach near Ashkelon National Park.
The beach near Ashkelon National Park. Photo by Moshe Gilad
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A roller-coaster destroyed by superstorm Sandy, New Jersey., U.S.A., Feb. 25, 2013, Photo by AP

The Rockefeller Foundation in New York announced Wednesday that the Israeli city of Ashkelon will be one of the first 33 cities to be part of its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge.

The challenge, launched after superstorm Sandy devastated New York in 2012, is a $100 million initiative aimed at making cities around the world more resistant to both natural and man-made calamities.

Selected out of hundreds of applicants, Ashkelon will have to instate its own "chief resilience officer" who will work with the Rockefeller team to conceive and implement a broad plan to shock-proof the city from myriad threats, according to media reports. The Rockefeller Foundation will help the city attract funding and support from both the public and private sectors. Moreover, Ashkelon will enjoy the network and expertise of the foundation in financing and operating the project, Bloomberg Newsweek reported.

Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, stated on the foundation's website that she hopes the project will galvanize more cities to start taking serious preemptive steps against the dangers facing an ever-crowding urban sphere, such as extreme weather, cyber-attacks, market crashes and terrorism. For years, Rodin has been calling attention to the inaptitude of urban infrastructures to sustain these potential threats, she wrote. “We can’t predict where the next crisis will hit,” she wrote, “The only thing we know for sure is that they will. But despite that certainty, cities on the whole are woefully unprepared to manage these shocks."

According to Rodin, the problem is not merely lack of funds, but also lack of sense of urgency.

"Our future is undeniably urban," she wrote. "Now is the time for action to ensure our cities remain places of opportunity for the next 100 years."