September 24, 2007 at 2:47 am | Posted in Arabs, Israel, Judaica, Middle East, Palestine, Zionism | Leave a comment








The Home Front Through Time

On the day that the State of Israel was established, David Ben Gurion coined the phrase, “The entire people is the army, the entire land is the front.” 43 years later, on the eve of the Gulf War (January 1991), it became more apparent than ever that the rear is also the front, and that it is an inseparable part of the fighting.

Home Front Commanders:

Jan. 2005–present: Major General Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon

June 2003–Jan. 2005: Major General Yair Naveh

Aug. 2001–June 2003: Major General Yosef Mishlav

Sept. 1997–Aug. 2001: Major General Gabi Ofir

Sept. 1994–Sept. 1997: the late Major General Shmuel Arad

Feb. 1992–Sept. 1994: Major General Ze’ev Livneh

Northern District Commanders:

Oct. 2005–present: Colonel Yossi Luchi

Oct. 2002–Oct. 2005: Colonel Hovav Tzabari

Oct. 1999–Oct. 2002: Colonel Avi Burger

Oct. 1994–Oct. 1999: Colonel Rafi Shmida (commander of Northern Home Front)

Feb. 1992–Oct. 1994: Colonel Tzahi Wagner-Ganor (commander of Northern Home Front)

The Home Front Through Time

Table of contents The Home Front Through Time The Home Front Command: Historical Background of Its Establishment The Gulf War – The Background to the Establishment of the Fourth Command Background on Division into Districts

The Home Front Through Time

On the day that the State of Israel was established, David Ben Gurion coined the phrase, “The entire people is the army, the entire land is the front.” 43 years later, on the eve of the Gulf War (January 1991), it became more apparent than ever that the rear is also the front, and that it is an inseparable part of the fighting.

About a year later, after the war had been analyzed, the Home Front Command was established. It would be headed by the assistant to the then head of the Operations Branch at GHQ, Brigadier General Ze’ev Livneh who was promoted to the rank of Major General.

The Home Front Command: Historical Background of Its Establishment
The beginning goes back to May 1948 when the familiar organization called HAGA
(Hebrew acronym for Civil Defense) was established under the name “Disaster Defense Services.” The service was established after the intensive Egyptian bombing of Tel Aviv which caused many casualties, both dead and wounded, and great damage to many buildings. Mordechai Nimtza-Bi was at the helm.

In 1951, the Knesset passed a law defining the legal status of HAGA. The law stated that the purpose of HAGA was “to take all the necessary steps to protect the populace in the event of any attack by hostile forces or to minimize the results of such an attack, the emphasis being on saving lives.”

Until 1967, no special efforts were put into preparing the home front. Home front units were not equipped or organized to deal with the possibility of war with damages to the rear. During the Six Day War, the Jewish part of Jerusalem was bombarded for a few hours, and the city of Netanya was bombed by a single Iraqi plane. Shells and bombs also hit Kfar Saba and the outskirts of Tel Aviv. These attacks brought about a change in the approach of organizing the home front.

Six years later, during the Yom Kippur War, it also became clear that it was necessary to instruct the populace on how to prepare and behave during emergencies. The State of Israel learned that, in certain situations, the regular rescue forces cannot reach the locale of the attack immediately, and therefore every individual and every home must be organized to be able to begin rescue efforts at once.

One may say that the organization of the home front relies on the civilians and their potential and that they are the resource upon which everything needed for rescue operations – people, equipment and vehicles – is drawn. Together with the civilian public and its institutions, the police and other security forces, the home front forces are activated in order to overcome any incident and to save lives to the extent possible. The aim is to establish a firm infrastructure of protection on behalf of the people at large, and, at the same time, to prepare a professional and mobile organization of rescue forces that will be able to arrive at the needed location quickly to save lives and minimize damage.

In addition to HAGA, units of HAG’MAR (Hebrew acronym of Regional Defense) were also active in the rear. The start of this branch of the military goes back to the establishment of the new agricultural settlements in the land of Israel and the establishment of forces to protect those settlements.

As harassment and terror attacks against Jewish settlements increased, the idea of regional protection took form. During the War of Independence, the forces to protect the settlements in effect became the main line of protection against infiltrations from Arab countries.

Until the Six Day War, the settlements were organized by blocs which were under the direct command of the Regional Protection and coordinated by the HAG’MAR officer. They would then be instructed vis-à-vis possible enemy breaches. After 1967, the concept of the blocs was discarded, and the areas were put under the command of regions or of divisions spread out in the various areas.

In the years following the Yom Kippur War, the I.D.F. decided to strengthen the HAG’MAR settlements, particularly those built along the lines of confrontation. Due to intensive efforts, the settlements became fortified sites with modernized weaponry allowing for rapid organization and deployment into battle. In the event of a surprise attack, the settlements would provide the main force blocking the attacking enemy on the front lines, thus defending the country. Someone put it like this: “The regional defensive settlements and their people are really the standing army for the purpose of defending the borders of the state.”

In August 1997, it was decided to unite the HAG’MAR division, which was under the command of the Operations Branch at GHQ, with the command of HAGA. This unification led to the creation of a headquarters of the Chief Command Officer for HAGA and HAG’MAR, Hebrew acronym MAK’HELAR. The Regional Defense (HAG’MAR) units operating within the framework of the Home Front Command, bear the responsibility of safeguarding the settlements in rural areas and of making sure the farms can continue their operations. The Home Front Command is responsible for the defense of the settlements through various means of protection such as fencing, circumferential lighting, patrol routes, and weapons caches.

In November 1988, the first national defense drills were held in educational institutions. Students throughout Israel were trained in going into shelters and putting on protection kits. Since then, such drills are held once a year in all schools in the country.

The Gulf War – The Background to the Establishment of the Fourth Command

As noted, until the establishment of the Command, the responsibility for the home front fell to MAK’HELAR – the Headquarters of the Chief Command Officer for HAGA (Civil Defense) and HAG’MAR (Regional Defense).

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and annexed it.

After the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the coalition of western countries failed, the United States, on November 29, 1990, received the go-ahead from the Security Council of the United Nations to “use all necessary means” to cause Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, starting January 15, 1991. At the same time, the Americans tried opening diplomatic channels with Iraq, with no success.

On January 16, as the ultimatum ran its course, Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi ruler, announced that Iraq would not give up Kuwait even at the cost of a war. The United States moved its forces into place both by sea and by land to prepare for the attack. War was inevitable.

The war lasted 42 days. The Americans worked intensively to destroy the Iraqi army and sites of strategic importance in terms of security, and were successful. The war ended with an Iraqi defeat and the withdrawal of its forces from Kuwait.

The Gulf War was a different type of war, a war in which the rear had to protect itself and in fact became the front. This was also a war in the media in which the falling of a shell or a bomb was broadcast live. This contributed to a change in international relations, and jumpstarted a concerted peace process.

Before the outbreak of hostilities, Iraq tried to draw Israel into becoming involved in the crisis. Such attempts included, for example, the Iraqi military spokesman announcing that the I.D.F., in disguise, had participated in the American taskforce, and the Iraqi threat of aggressive reprisals against Israel should the U.S.A. make a military move against Iraq or harm Iraq’s interests in Kuwait. The response of the Israeli government was that while Israel is an ally of the United States, Israel does not see itself as a partner in the crisis. Israel maintained a low profile from the day Iraq invaded Kuwait, and did not participate in the political contacts between Iraq and the U.S.A. Despite this “low profile” policy, the I.D.F., through HAGA, took a number of steps particularly in the field of the defense of the home front to thwart any attempt to harm Israel through both conventional and unconventional weapons.

In the course of the war, the I.D.F. took a number of steps regarding the home front:

1. Handing out personal protection kits to all residents in Israel for protection against unconventional weapons.

  1. Wide-ranging use of the media to disseminate information and directions on how to use he masks and how to behave during an alert.
  2. Publicizing directions for preparing a sealed and secure room in every home and in public places, and instructions to avoid large gatherings.
  3. Cooperation between medical and rescue organizations in the rear.

These actions together with insights from the war on the part of both the political and military echelons quickly led to the decision to establish the Home Front Command. The experience accrued over 42 days of tension clarified that only such a step would enable preparation, organization, and a high state of readiness for the State of Israel in three ways:

Legally: Before the Gulf War, the Home Front Command was comprised of three rear commands under the command of the regional commands (Northern, Central and Southern). The command responsibility fell to the Major-Generals of these commands. The Home Front Command, a professional and organizational establishment, had no authority or responsibility on the ground. This situation stood in contradiction to the Law of Civilian Defense of 1951 which gave autonomy and wide-ranging authority to the Home Front Command.

Operationally: Often, it is important to prepare the rear while fighting is happening on the front lines. In such cases, the Home Front Command frees the Major-Generals of the other commands (Northern, Central and Southern) of responsibility for the rear, and allows them to focus on operational needs of the front.

Organizationally: The establishment of the Home Front Command allows for greater efficiency in the existing units, and ensures better coordination with all civilian bodies and emergency organizations. As early as 1975, several committees investigated the subject of the organization that would deal with civilian defense, and recommended the establishment of the Home Front Command. The possibility of a threat towards the rear during a time of war on several fronts raised the awareness about the home front, and emphasized the need for a single body to concentrate all efforts on the home front during an emergency.

On February 17, 1992, the Home Front Command was established as the fourth command in the I.D.F.

Background on Division into Districts
As mentioned above, before the establishment of the Home Front Command, the professional responsibility for the home front in the State of Israel was divided amongst the Home Front Headquarters of HAGA which were under the direct command of the Major-Generals of the commands. The HQs of the Home Front were divided into the following regions:

  1. Northern Home Front – was under the command of the Northern Command and included the Galilee, Tabor and Haifa regions.
  2. Central Home Front – was under the command of the Central Command and included the Sharon, Ayalon, Dan, Jerusalem and Lakhish regions.
  3. Southern Home Front – was under the command of the Southern Command.

With the establishment of the Home Front Command, the areas of the State of Israel were divided amongst four regional commands (Northern, Central, Southern and Home Front) rather than the earlier three. Full authority for the area ranging from Acre in the North to Ashkelon in the South was transferred to the Home Front Command. The eastern border is the line demarcating Judea and Samaria. This is the most densely populated urban area of the State of Israel. The area of the Home Front Command was divided into districts as follows:

  1. The Haifa District (this was separated from the Northern Home Front and established as an independent district).
  2. The Central District (a unification of the Sharon and Ayalon HAGA districts).
  3. The Dan District.
  4. The Jerusalem District.
  5. The Lakhish District.

The Northern and Southern Home Fronts were under the command of the Home Front Command only professionally speaking. However, in terms of command, they were still under the command of the Northern and Southern Commands, as it was necessary for the Major-Generals of those commands to control the access to roads for movement of forces to the fronts during an emergency. In 1998, the Southern Home Front was placed under the command of the Home Front Command, was unified with the Lakhish District, and established in the Home Front Command as the Southern District. In 1999, the Northern Home Front was placed under the command of the Home Front Command and established as the Northern District.

Today, there are five districts in the Home Front Command. These are under the command of the Home Front Command both in terms of the chain of command and professionally speaking, and they bear full and complete responsibility on the ground. Additionally, the Home Front Command also operates the National Rescue Unit (Hebrew acronym of YAHTZA), a training center for extrications and rescue, and three standing rescue units. The area of the rear is divided into districts as follows:

  1. The Northern District
  2. The Dan District
  3. The Jerusalem District
  4. The Central District
  5. The Southern District

How to act in Emergency

Correct Behavior during Missile and Long-range Rocket

How to Behave in a Qassam Rocket or Mortar Attack

How to Behave in a Terrorist Attack

How to Behave in an Earthquake

How to Behave in a Fire

How to Behave in a Flood

How to Behave in the Event of a Hazardous Material

First Aid

Coping With an Emergency

How to Cope with Anxiety and Stress in an Emergency

Children’s Behavior in Emergencies

After the Emergency

Industrial Installations and Emergencies

Industrial Installations and Emergencies

Table of contents Industrial Installations and Emergencies What’s the connection between factories and emergencies? What do we do?

Industrial Installations and Emergencies
Preparing an industrial installation during routine times is an indispensable precondition for its ability to cope with the difficult situations that emergencies produce.

Every factory manager, with the help of the individual in charge of civil defense in the factory and other personnel, must promote and enforce the codes and directions below, in accordance with the specific features and qualities of his factory, so that s/he and the factory will be better able to cope with various emergency scenarios.

Section 1 of the 5711-1951 Civil Defense Law interprets “civil defense” to mean the measures taken for the purpose of defending against any attack or risk of attack on the civilian population or for the purpose of minimizing the effects of such an attack, excluding weaponry not intended for self-protection.

Some industrial installations have been recognized by the State of Israel as essential in wartime. Therefore, and in accordance with procedure, they have been declared “essential industries” by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. Others are defined as keeping hazardous materials by the Ministry of the Environment. Preparing for an emergency is essential and required by every factory, each in its own particular way.

What’s the connection between factories and emergencies?
Under various circumstances, such as events affecting security or as a result of natural disasters, the alert level is liable to rise in both among civilians and security forces.

An emergency, such as a fire, a bombing, a missile hit, a katyusha hit, or a natural disaster, is liable to affect continued production in the factory. When we anticipate an impending emergency, we enter an ongoing emergency situation, i.e. a period of time in which emergencies that would cause great difficulties to the continued production of the factory might occur. Examples of such difficulties are worker absenteeism (because of reserve duty, security events, or even the suspension of the school system), difficulties in obtaining raw materials, etc.

What do we do?
In order to prepare well ahead of time and in order to improve the capability of coping with an emergency, the Home Front Command has assembled all the topics relating to civil defense that an industrial installation needs.

Taking these steps during routine times will ensure effective coping that may enable the factory to go on producing even in an emergency.

Abstract “Industrial Defense and Protection,” January 2007

– Booklet “The Essential Industry: Preparing for an Emergency,” published by the National Headquarters for the Economy in an Emergency (“MELAH”), 5763-2002

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