MK Yisrael Eichler: 'Why aren't bomb shelters being built on the Home Front?'

'Since they built shelters for communities near Gaza, the missiles' range has expanded,' UTJ's MK Yisrael Eichler says.

Ben Shaul ,

Yisrael Eichler
Yisrael Eichler
Hezki Baruch

Last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) rejected an urgent request by MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) on the issue of a lack of bomb shelters.

This week, however, the Knesset approved the request.

"Why are local authority heads holding up Tama 38 initiatives, in which local residents can build themselves bomb shelters?" Eichler asked. "It's an issue of life and death."

Deputy Interior Minister Yoav Ben Tzur (Shas) responded on behalf of the government, acknowledging the severe lack of bomb shelters in many neighborhoods around Israel. He also acknowledged that the urban renewal and Tama 38 initiatives are not being implemented enough, and confirmed that the Tama 38 initiative will end in mid-2022.

Eichler then questioned why the government had delayed the Defense Minister's response until after the fighting in Gaza had ceased, and then sent it on to the Interior Ministry.

"The Deputy Minister has said that leaders of local authorities are authorized to approve the construction of bomb shelters as part of Tama 38 or the plan for urban renewal," he noted, adding that "the local authorities are not allowing the residents to add bomb shelters, for various bureaucratic reasons. They are thus endangering the residents' lives."

"Since they built shelters [for localities] up to seven kilometers [from Gaza], the missiles' range has expanded to 47 kilometers [from Gaza]. As a member of the Subcommittee on Home Front Defense, I am well aware of the severity of the problem. Years ago, I arrived in Ashdod with the Minister for Home Front Defense, after the first rockets had fallen in the city. There were educational classrooms in temporary buildings. I told him that if a missile falls here, G-d forbid what will happen. He immediately ordered the Education Ministry to build dozens of protected educational buildings in areas up to 40 kilometers from Gaza.

"Why does the Home Front Command not take responsibility for constructing the missing bomb shelters? We need to require that bomb shelters be built for the public's safety. The government has requested in the past five billion shekel to protect the Home Front, but as the State Comptroller has stated, only 2% of the budget was actually allocated."

MK Uriel Busso (Shas) expressed support for Eichler's statements, saying: "I stood at the head of planning committees for many years. I want to make a point: Specifically in this period, when we saw how problematic the lack of bomb shelters is, there is great importance in speeding up the Tama processes. The authorities take the law into their own hands and do not allow Tama for various reasons. The Interior Ministry must force mayors to allow the construction of bomb shelters as part of the Tama and urban renewal plans, or as part of various other plans."