Civil Protection In Israel
The National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) is in charge of directing and coordinating preparedness and response of government offices, infrastructures and local authorities in case of emergency. Its purpose is to reduce the loss of life and damage to infrastructure, as well as to insure social resilience and continuity of state services and economic activity.
The Home Front Command (HCF) is responsible for preparedness, search and rescue operations and assistance to local authorities.
In addition, several ministries hold the authority to deal with different aspects of the disaster management cycle: the Ministry of the Interior (temporary shelter), the Ministry of Housing (engineers for survey of damages, temporary housing), the Ministry of the Environment (dealing with hazardous materials) and the Ministry of National Infrastructures (electricity, water, sewage, natural gas) are responsible for prevention and risk management. NEMA, the Ministry of Health, the Police and the Home Front Command are in charge of preparedness, response and early recovery.
NEMA is part of the Ministry of Defence; its tasks include the direction and coordination between emergency organizations, government offices, local authorities and other relevant institutions.
NEMA’s daily responsibilities are:
– Writing the National Threat Assessment.
– Creating a long-term plan for the improvement of Home Front preparedness.
– Organizing local and national emergency preparedness exercises (together with the HFC). Courses are conducted for civil servants, first responders and municipal workers. Search and rescue courses (professional and volunteer levels) also take place.
– Creating and maintaining an infrastructure for international cooperation in the fields of information-sharing and humanitarian aid.
– Promoting relevant legislation of emergency management concepts in Parliament and Government.
– Preparing an annual report on the Home Front’s preparedness level for the Government.
– Initiating research in the field of emergency preparedness.
– Coordinating in order to improve the population’s resilience to emergency situations.
– Ensuring proper funding for emergency preparedness in government offices.
– Inspecting the preparedness level of local authorities and government offices.
NEMA’s responsibilities in time of emergency are:
– Operating the National Emergency Management Centre, which allows for real-time analysis of national emergencies. The centre receives information from all the emergency organizations in order to locate current and possible future gaps and overlaps in emergency response efforts.
– Coordinating national response efforts.
– Advising the Minister of Defence and ensuring the implementation of his instructions in the field of emergency management.
– Preparing national contingency plans. Other emergency organizations such as the Police, the Home Front Command, Israel Fire and Rescue Services are responsible for preparing their own organizational plans and procedures. There is a plan for earthquake response, a plan for receiving humanitarian aid and other necessary resources in case of earthquake and a newly prepared plan for tsunami response.
In case of mass evacuation, responsibility is respectively of the local authority (at municipal level) and the Police (at national level), while the Ministry of Interior is responsible for lodging and assisting the evacuees. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism plans include assisting tourists in need at the main tourist locations/cities (such as Jerusalem, Nazareth, Eilat, Tel Aviv).
With regard to earthquakes, the government of Israel established in December 1999 the Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness (chaired by NEMA), to lead and coordinate earthquake preparedness on its behalf. This is an inter-ministerial committee, subordinated to the government (reporting to a Council of Ministers). The Committee deals with all aspects related to the earthquake risk: awareness, prevention, preparedness and mitigation, response, rehabilitation and recovery. The steering committee is mostly a coordinating body without legal responsibilities. The Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness holds yearly earthquake awareness campaigns. The Geological Survey of Israel is in the process of building a national early warning system. Local early warning systems are installed in schools. The Ministry of Education provides for special didactic and training programs for disaster preparedness from kindergarten to high school. The fifth grade program is dedicated to earthquakes.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is the responsible for the safeguarding of cultural assets and built heritage in Israel. It is in charge of formulating operational standards and to promote supervision of the conservation processes, professional training and the assimilation of conservation education. The Conservation Department, the leading professional body of IAA, coordinates all entities involved in the safeguard of cultural heritage in order to join forces and promote the professional practice of conservation in Israel. The Conservation Department works to determine national priorities in the field: it is entrusted with implementing policies and establishing the necessary mechanisms to enforce conservation principles.
IAA last released policy for the treatment of the national cultural heritage dates back to 2009 and is based on the Antiquities Law, professional ethics and accepted conservation principles in the world. This policy makes it possible to coordinate the contributions of the entities that are involved in conservation activity in Israel – public authorities, site managers, researchers, documenters, planners, conservators and educators – and to reach a higher degree of collaboration and of professional standards.
The Conservation Department of IAA, under the umbrella of the National Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness in Israel, coordinated/managed by NEMA, has started in 2010 the first steps towards the development of a coordinated approach to Disaster Risk Reduction of Cultural Heritage Sites in Israel.
A steering committee was established with all the main organizations that are responsible for Cultural Heritage in Israel: The Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Council for the Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel with other professional and academic institutes such as the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI), Ben Gurion University and Bezalel Academy. The initial activities were the building of a Risk Map for Archaeological sites, pilot projects of Vulnerably Assessment in Archaeological and Historical sites, quarters and building with the academic support of the University of Padova, Italy, and last, raising public awareness by international conferences and other publications.