Over two weeks ago, after the first of Katyusha landings in Safed, Yossi Kucik, who served as the director general of the Prime Minister's Office during Ehud Barak's term, acceded to current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's request to go to Safed to help the authorities of the city under fire. He returned home only a few days ago. Here is an official brief of his stay there:
"Mayor Yishai Maimon and the members of his staff gave me a warm welcome. An hour after joining them, I experienced firsthand the meaning of a Katyusha routine: a frightening siren, a quick dive for shelter, a nerve-racking wait for landings, sharpening our ears to locate the landing area and waiting until we understood where it fell, who was hurt and what damage was caused. That repeats itself several times a day. Tension and anxiety, and in spite of that, the need to function.
"With the help of the Home Front and the police, we began to check all the public and private bomb shelters. With the outbreak of the battles, most of the residents of Safed left the city. In normal times the city has a population of about 32,000. At present about 7,000-8.000 people are living there, most from the weakest sectors of the population. Out of 250 municipal workers, only about 30-40 are now at work.
"The conditions are intolerable. I saw bomb shelters that even a cow being threatened by a Zelzal missile would not be willing to enter. We found new mothers with week-old infants on the floor of the shelter, elderly people in distress, sick people in need of medicine, people in need of hospitalization. They are all stuck in shelters, unable to take care of themselves. Since the war broke out completely by surprise, the population was not psychologically prepared, the shelters, especially those in private homes, were not prepared in advance - certainly not for a prolonged stay. The shock was great and the ability to provide a proper solution, in the absence of public transportation and with an acute shortage of manpower, is very limited.
"We cannot expect the mayor - whose actions I greatly admire - with a number of workers and volunteers, to succeed in providing solutions to such great and extensive distress, to such difficult populations. The government must bring together large forces of the Home Front, the police and Magen David Adom. With the assistance of the local government and the volunteers, it must provide a quick solution to large populations in distress who are spending such long periods in shelters. In light of the possibility that the war will continue for several more weeks, there is an immediate need to prepare for an emergency routine. If not, things are liable to get out of control."
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