The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee chair, MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Camp), said on Tuesday that “if we are forced to go to war tomorrow, the home front will not be prepared.”
The committee was discussing the ability of vital industry to function during a war emergency. The meeting was held as part of Home Front Protection Day at the Knesset, an initiative of MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Camp).
Amid the growing threats from the north and the rocket and mortar fire emanating from the Gaza Strip, the committee met in order to assess the ability of essential factories to help the economy continue to function while fighting was going. Bezalel Treiber, head of the National Emergency Authority, said Israel was facing a difficult and complex threat, and in the event that vital plants are forced to shut down, the economy would not be able to function.
Limor Levy, head of the Defense Ministry’s Strategic Infrastructure Division, said there is no law compelling factories to remain open during an emergency, so the plan is to give them a financial incentive to do so.
MK Peretz warned that civil society would not be able to continue to provide services in a time of war. Israel’s airspace would be closed for the transport of goods, he said, adding that foreigners who work for the ZIM shipping company would leave Israel as soon as war erupts.
MK Peretz, who chairs the Subcommittee for the Readiness of the Home Front, argued that a well prepared home front would shorten the duration of any future war. “During the Second Lebanon War, when the enemy saw Gaydamak’s buses, it saw panic, and this increased its motivation,” he said.
Following the 2006 Gaza War, Russian billionaire Aracdi Gaydmak sent buses to the rocket-battered city of Sderot, near the Gaza border, and evacuated local residents to Eilat, enraging then prime minister Ehud Olmert. Amir Peretz was Defense Minister at the time, received a personal putdown from Gaydamak, who said about Peretz: “What does he know, to be a taxi driver?”
MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) said that during his term as head of Eshkol Regional Council, farmers and factories wanted to continue working in times of war, but they were not permitted to do so.
MK Cabel summed up the meeting, saying, “If our home front will not be ready, we will have a problem. If we are forced to go to war tomorrow, the home front will not be prepared, by definition. The reality of war will be unlike anything we have known; they don’t fire Davidkas (homemade mortar launcher) here anymore. With each passing day, the enemy is improving its capabilities, and we must prepare for any scenario.”