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By Arie Egozi

Remember the report on the Israeli Military Forces state of readiness by IDF Ombudsman, Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick? At the time, there were attempts to ridicule the report and diminish its importance. But whoever was acquainted with the situation knew that the report was accurate and even underestimating the problems severity.

Yesterday (27.3), the State Comptroller Yosef Shapira pointed at a problem that currently has a special importance. Mainly as Israel submits to any caprice by the Hamas and the Hizballah has huge stockpiles of rockets.

In spite of the clear and immediate threat, it appears that there are many faults in the readiness and preparedness of the Homefront Command.

According to yesterday’s report, the Homefront Command makes efforts to enhance its readiness for emergency search and rescue missions, but there are faults, and some are significant, regarding the operational preparedness of the reserve units search and rescue forces’ order of battle to operate in complex destruction sites, such as the ones caused by heavy rockets.

The Comptroller points out that there is no examination regarding the compatibility of the rescue battalions to the operational requirements in accordance with the reference scenario. He found out that since 1992, there has been no analysis regarding the order of battle size of the rescue battalions of the Homefront Command in accordance with the homefront reference scenario. Due to this situation, it is impossible to establish whether the forces size is larger or smaller than required.

The Comptroller also exposed the lack of compatibility in the Homefront Command’s  operational plans. The report claims that according to the operational plans, search and rescue regular service battalions will have to fulfill both rescue missions as per the Homefront Command’s operational plan, and population evacuation missions. These missions might be required simultaneously right at the beginning of the hostilities, when an attack against the homefront population might require an immediate search and rescue response. According to the Comptroller, such situation might hamper the implementation of both plans because of the duplication in the missions assigned to the regular services’ rescue battalions.

Furthermore, the Comptroller warns that there are gaps in search and rescue capabilities in modern buildings environments. In recent years, many high-rise buildings and skyscrapers have been built. The dense iron and cement constructions with the glass envelope, underground infrastructures and hybrid construction – all pose new challenges for the operational search and rescue response.  

There is nothing new in the State Comptroller’s report for people that are acquainted with the situation. What is worrying is that while many people, including IDF high-ranking officers, are aware of this situation – the failures continue to exist.

What is reflected by the report is the fact that whoever is responsible to the situation thinks that we live in Switzerland.

The Comptroller also points out that the operational requirements for rescuing people from high buildings and on slopes was stressed by the Homefront Command already in 2010, however, for years the Command refrained from publishing any designated techniques. The Comptroller stresses that this fault is essential due to the fact that such techniques require training. Unfortunately, these techniques were not completed nor incorporated in the readiness of the units although the problem is known for over a decade.  

Furthermore, regarding mechanical engineering equipment, the Comptroller has found out that the Homefront Command’s response is not complete, a fact that will hamper the reserve services battalions’ operations in complex disaster sites. The Command has only 8% of the amount of ambulances required by the standard. This gap in the number of ambulances, as well as of paramedic teams for emergency ambulances, will hamper the chances for the immediate and efficient extrication of victims from disaster sites.

Indeed, it seems that this report, similarly to the one written by Brick, will remain useless exactly as other such reports. We will pay the price because the government does not spend time in studying the report and does not allocate the adequate resources, while it is clear that in any future war, the homefront population will be exposed to losses no less than the front..

Arie Egozi, iHLS Editor-in-Chief