With growing speculation about an Israeli assault against Iranian nuclear facilities, the Shomron Regional Council is preparing to take in thousands of Israelis from the Gush Dan area who may be seeking refuge from missile attacks as the regional council has done in the past.
Gershon Mesika, who heads the regional council, is preparing to take in residents of Gush Dan and other areas in the event of a missile strike against Israel. Experts report that this would be the likely response to an Israeli assault against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The effort is based on a plan devised three years ago, a plan that has been approved and exercised by local council officials in cooperation with the IDF’s Homefront Command.
Three years ago, Mesika met with then Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and explained the plan which he feels will be able to accommodate up to 530,000 residents, bringing them to Shomron, well out of missile range. The plan was kept secret as it was approved and advanced, now being actualized as this threat seems possible, or according to some, the likelihood of the need to evacuate residents from the Gush Dan area.
The regional council has provided shelter for fleeing residents in the past, as was the case in the Gulf War (Gush Dan residents), Second Lebanon War (northern residents) and Operation Cast Lead (southern residents).
According to Yossi Dagan, a senior advisor to Mesika quoted by the daily HaMevaser, one of the advantages is that in Shomron, residents are “scattered about” as opposed to being densely situated in Gush Dan, where the possibility of injury or fatalities is more likely in the latter. Another advantage if the geographical location of Shomron, permitting northern residents in Afula, the Gush Dan area residents in the center, and those south of Ben-Gurion International Airport to head to Shomron at night and return to their cities daily for work. The presence of Arab villages throughout Shomron makes shelling the area a less likely scenario.
The plan addresses the use of public buildings such as schools and auditoriums. Tent cities are another aspect of the plan, such as the tent city established by philanthropist Arkadi Gaydamak during the Second Lebanon War.
In light of the heightened media attention surrounding a possible Israeli assault against Iran, Mesika has instructed his officials to begin dusting off the plans and to make certain they are ready to implement emergency procedures if called upon to do so.
Mesika told the media residents of the yishuvim have provided a safe haven for residents of areas under attack in the past and will do the same if required to in the future, with love and open arms. He adds that in addition to our Biblical right, this is another reason why the Shomron is essential to the State of Israel, calling the Shomron “the ideal solution to conventional missile threats”.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)