Carmel fire report exposes Israel´s unpreparedness for potential Iran war (HAīARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel 06/21/12)
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The decision-making problems revealed by the state comptroller´s
report on the 2010 disaster are particularly relevant in light of the
failure of talks between Tehran and the West.
The problems revealed by the state comptroller´s report on the 2010
Carmel forest disaster regarding the executive branch´s lack of
preparedness and the decision-making process among Israeli officials
should come as no surprise - especially in light of last weekís
comptroller report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident.
One issue addressed by the Carmel report is the home frontís
preparedness for the possibility of an emergency situation - security-
related or otherwise. The Fire and Rescue Services, whose failures
were exposed in the report, are a significant part of the forces used
during any emergency scenario. The firefightersí skills and level of
preparedness are critical, whether during a deadly forest fire or
during a barrage of rockets from Lebanon or Iran.
Now, in light of the failure of the talks between Tehran and the West
in Moscow, and due to the growing fears of an Israeli attack on
Iranian nuclear sites, this issue is as relevant as ever.
There are experts who tell us that the threat of missiles on the home
front is not as serious as it seems - that following the Home Front
Command´s instructions, alongside improved deterrence, will reduce
the likely damages from an attack. But defending the home front is
dependent on how well the various rescue services function,
especially in light of the fact that they work independently of one
The report shows that a lack of training materials and drills for
firefighters, a low operational level and a gap in equipment - all of
these were known to the decision-makers before the disaster. Many
more problems occurred among officers in the police and senior
firefighters during the fire, including arriving at the scene, the
lack of ability to put together credible situation reports and a lack
of control over forces.
A year and a half after the Carmel disaster, the gaps in the home
frontís preparation can still be felt: public bomb shelters are still
in bad condition, millions of shekels are lacking for defensive
measures (while huge amounts are being budgeted in order to prepare
for offensive aspects), and the lack of preparation kits for more
than a third of the population is even more worrisome in light of the
prospect of chemical weapons trickling out of Assadís Syria.
There is no doubt that much is being done in the home front in the
wake of the failures exposed after the Second Lebanon War and later
the Carmel fire. It is doubtful, however, if enough has been done
since then to fix the oversights. ďI have a hard time believing that
Netanyahu and Barak donít understand the ramifications of a possible
Iranian attack on the Israeli home front. It is impossible that they
are knowingly ready to fail,Ē said a former senior official, who
currently serves as an advisor to the Israeli leadership.
Alongside the politiciansí evasions, the attacks which have since
become routine on State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and the blame
game among all those involved were the explanations given Tuesday
over the ways in which Israelís firefighting services have
dramatically improved since the disaster. The discussion, like the
one over the home front preparedness, is reminiscent of the ongoing
disagreement over the fitness of military reserves. The IDF has put
more of an emphasis on equipping and training reserve units after the
trauma of 2006.
But Lindenstraussí monitoring reports still reveal many worrying
gaps. On Tuesday, a Knesset Committee held a discussion on the issue.
Reserve officers told MKs hair-raising stories from their personal
experiences. In contrast, IDF representatives explained that the
situation has never been better.
Now try a thought experiment: Based on life experience in Israel,
which stance is more believable? The worries of civilians and the
revelations of the comptroller´s report or the soothing words of the
authorities? (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/21/12)
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