Defense Ministry: Home Front Inadequately Protected for War

Treasury offers less than 10% of requested budget; Haaretz study: Wide gaps home front protection.

In a recent meeting Defense Minister Amir Peretz held with his senior staff, Peretz declared that "The protection of the home front is in a grave state." Asked if the home front was protected today in the event of a broad military offensive, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, who oversees the issue of home front protection, told Haaretz:

"The home front is not adequately protected for war. There is an urgent need for some NIS 450 million in 2007 for the most vital and urgent of needs. A third of the year has already passed, and we have yet to receive a single shekel." Sources in the IDF Home Front Command described the situation as "a scandal."

Wide gaps exist in protection of the home front in Israel, a Haaretz study has found. The study also reveals that the time that has elapsed since the summer 2006 war in Lebanon has not be used effectively to prepare for a possible future war.

Changes for the better have been few, most concentrated in the settlements and towns bordering the Gaza Strip.

In internal discussions within the defense establishment, it has been determined that it would require some NIS 1.4 billion to close the gaps in protection on the home front. Despite this, the request submitted to the prime minister and the finance minister was trimmed to NIS 390 million.

The treasury has announced that it is willing to allocate NIS 30 million for the purpose this year, and another NIS 33 million in 2008.

In response, the Defense Ministry refused either to accept the funds or to sign associated documents, calling it "a trap of the treasury."

The standstill in the realm of improving protection for the citizenry stands in contrast to intelligence and strategic assessments which take into account a harsh offensive against the Israeli home front.

The decision-making process in the governmental sector has only worsened the state of affairs. For four months now, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has failed to respond to a request by Peretz to convene the security cabinet for a discussion of home front protection and the budget requires to address the problems involved.

In response, the Defense Ministry decided to resist the Finance Ministry proposal to cut the budget for home front protection.