ICEJ Delivering 36 New Bomb Shelters to Vulnerable Towns
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is currently delivering thirty-six new portable bomb shelters to Israeli border communities which are especially vulnerable to rocket and mortar fire from Gaza and Lebanon. The funds for these three dozen new shelters have all been raised from Christians worldwide in the past six months since the last Hamas rocket war in May.
With these new shelters, the ICEJ has now donated at total of 161 bomb shelters to Israeli communities under rocket threat since 2008, with the majority (130) placed in towns along the Gaza periphery and the remaining shelters deployed in the North.
Over the past decade, the Negev region has received most of the attention from government and private sources seeking to better protect the local civilian population from frequent rocket barrages. Working in partnership with Operation Lifeshield, the Christian Embassy has placed dozens of mobile bomb shelters in communities in the Gaza envelope, stretching from Kerem Shalom in the south all the way up through Sderot and Ashkelon. Most have been donated to schools, daycare centers, medical clinics, youth centers, community halls, university campuses, factories and other public places which cannot operate during times of crisis without adequate bomb shelters.
However, the need for more bomb shelters in the North has become an increasing concern, especially due to the severe lack of public shelters and Lebanon’s growing economic crisis. Thus, the Christian Embassy is increasing its efforts to assist towns in the northern Galilee and Haifa regions to protect their most vulnerable communities.
A State Comptroller report issued last year warned that 2.6 million residents of northern Israel do not have access to functional bomb shelters. While there have been efforts to upgrade existing shelters, the state budget has provided little funding to add new and better shelters, due in part to the instability of Israel’s government over recent years and the priority given to resupplying the IDF’s Iron Dome batteries, the report concluded.
The need for more shelters is most acute in the towns right along the northern border with Lebanon, which are prone to shorter range rockets that cannot be stopped by the Iron Dome system. This hilly, forested area contains a diverse mosaic of Jewish, Arab and Druze towns which are desperately looking for funding to provide better protection for their communities. Other areas of concern are the Jewish and Arab farming villages in the Zevulun regional council just east of Haifa, which are close to strategic facilities – such as oil storage tanks and chemical plants – which Hizbullah is expected to target in any future conflict.
Currently, the Christian Embassy is delivering some of its 36 new shelters to public places in Haifa, Akko, Kfar Maccabi and elsewhere – all in consultation with local authorities, security chiefs and social agencies. This week, for instance, two new bomb shelters were delivered and dedicated on Tuesday (11/23) at the Israel Tennis Center facilities in Akko (Acre), which teaches tennis and other sports to Jewish and Arab youths from disadvantaged families.
Just in recent weeks, the ICEJ has delivered bomb shelters to several Jewish and Arab communities in the Zevulun region, as well as to kibbutzim and moshavim along the Gaza border. This includes: Kibbutz Usha (two kindergartens); Kibbutz Nahal Oz (guard tower); Kibbutz Or HaNer (security gate); Kibbutz Beror Chayil (soccer field); Kibbutz Nir Am (museum and café); and Moshav Mictachim (tomato packing farm).
Since the latest rocket war with Hamas in Gaza back in May, the ICEJ has received donations for new bomb shelters from Christians in dozens of countries, most notably from Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Fiji, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States.
“Many Israelis living along the Gaza border have told us that these mobile bomb shelters indeed save lives and give their families the peace of mind they need to continue their daily lives under the constant threat of rocket attacks,” said ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler. “We now want to focus more on the need for additional bomb shelters to protect civilians in the North. The existing public shelters are not enough and these portable shelters are an effective way to provide greater security to the smaller towns and villages in the Galilee and Haifa regions that are often overlooked.”
“In selecting where to place these shelters, the Christian Embassy looks to meet other social needs in the community as well, such as helping the tennis center in Akko which gives sports lessons to disadvantaged youths,” added Dr Bühler. “We also are pleased to promote Jewish-Arab coexistence by sharing these shelters among the diverse communities in the North.”
Help place more life-saving bomb shelters in unprotected areas.