Wednesday, May 26, 2010
We're not ready for chemical attack'
Home Front Command: Israel unprepared for most likely WMD attack.
Israel is not sufficiently prepared for a chemical missile attack, a top IDF Home Front Command officer warned on Tuesday, in response to a report in The Jerusalem Post that the military lacked 40 percent of the gas masks needed to complete their distribution to the public. We are ill-prepared for a chemical threat due to the lack of gas masks,” said Col. Hilik Sofer, head of the Home Front Command’s Population Branch. “We have so far distributed just more than 300,000 gas masks, but there is what to improve.”
Kadima MK Nachman Shai slammed the government for not allocating to the Defense Ministry the funding needed to complete the overhaul of the gas masks that were collected from the public years ago.
“The threat on the home front is growing and we now know that the entire country is vulnerable to missile attacks,” the former IDF spokesman said. “Nevertheless, the government is refraining from allocating the billion shekels needed to complete the refurbishment and distribution of gas masks to the public.”
Sofer said that the despite the gas mask problem, the nationwide drill that began on Sunday was a success so far.
“We have significantly improved since last year, particularly when it comes to cooperation with local councils,” he said. “There is still more to improve with regard to cooperation between different emergency services and the warning systems that we have deployed throughout the country.”
Also on Tuesday, US National Guard commander Gen. Craig McKinley met with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan. McKinley was in Israel to watch the drill and to study Home Front Command lessons learned from the 2006’s Second Lebanon War and last winter’s Operation Cast Lead.
Defense officials said Craig’s visit was significant and demonstrated the close cooperation between Israel and the US on civil defense issues. The IDF recently decided to send an officer to the US to serve as a liaison with the National Guard.
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Avi Dichter told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Iron Dome missile defense system, which was successfully tested earlier this year, should be deployed as soon as it is operational.
The former public security minister and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director said the IDF was taking too long to deploy the system, considering the mounting rocket threats from Hamas in the South and from Hizbullah in the North.