Over 250K Israeli-Arabs, Bedouin lack defense from rocket attacks

Around half of the 550,000 Bedouin and Arabs in the North and the South lack sufficient protection from rocket attacks, the state comptroller said Monday.
  In his report on local municipal issues, Joseph Shapira said that as of the March 2018 closing date, 38% of Bedouin and Arab students, or 127,000 students, are unprotected in their schools.
  “In the non-Jewish sector in the north and the south, the protection and bomb shelter situation is especially awful,” according to Shapira. “The findings of the report require a national effort both regarding the grave lack of infrastructure and regarding the lack of upkeep and supplies within” any protective structures that have been built.
  On a broader basis, around two million people generally do not have sufficient protection or bomb shelters to escape to in the event of a conflict.
  “The primary threat to the State of Israel’s home front is missiles and rockets… which cause explosions when they strike the ground… structures and which are likely to endanger people’s lives. Physical protections… are designed to reduce the physical harm and risk to people and the overall number of casualties… they are imperative to confront the threats.”
  The comptroller’s office received answers to questionnaires from 71 local authorities and conducted comprehensive visits to 14 local authorities.
  Noting that a national task force worked on the issue from September 2014 to July 2016, the report said the government has failed to take up the task force’s recommendations for two years.
  At a local level, Shapira said authorities have completely failed to map out what protection and bomb shelter assets they have, devise plans relating to them or pass laws to make sure that these assets are probably kept-up.
  Giving an example of what can happen in that vacuum, one shelter was taken over by a side group just looking for some space, and the side group, without oversight, altered the shelter in ways that limit its continued effectiveness.
  On a similar note, many shelters were built by the national authority, but the local authorities failed to outfit them with supplies such that people would not be able to stay in them for the extended periods, which are expected to be necessary in the event of a conflict with Hamas or Hezbollah.
  A December 2016 comptroller report echoed similar criticism of the state for failing to secure the Bedouin sector in the South. That report found that despite a High Court of Justice petition demanding equal protection for Bedouin, there had basically been no progress in increasing their safety.
  In July 2015 and March 2016 hearings before the High Court, the Bedouin slammed the state for ignoring “unrecognized” Bedouin villages. The court noted that rockets do not skip over villages simply because Israel officially does not recognize them. Though the Defense Ministry responded that private citizens have the duty to build their own shelter-rooms, Shapira said Bedouin building plans are rarely approved – meaning essentially they cannot build their own shelters.
  Another common refrain from the state is that the Bedouin are only one of many groups near the border that are still unprotected and that other villages are in even greater danger. The Bedouin have responded that Jewish villages within the same rocket range as the Bedouin have been provided with far more new shelters than they have.
  The National Emergency Authority (RACHEL) has been making progress in aspects of bomb-shelter coverage for the home front.
  The IDF and RACHEL defended the lack of bomb shelters in certain areas in early 2016 saying private citizens or the Education Ministry were primarily responsible for the issue. The comptroller said he disagreed and placed primary responsibility with the defense minister.
  Shapira said it is unrealistic to expect all private citizens to have the funds to build their own private shelter at an approximate cost of NIS 100,000, when the median income is NIS 6,707 per month and the average income is NIS 9,317 per month.
  On the positive side, Shapira’s 2016 report had complimented the state on outfitting Gaza border communities within 7 km. of the border with special shelters.