Arab Israelis 'have nowhere to hide' if war breaks out
Israel's Arabs are extremely concerned by the mounting tensions between Israel and Iran and claim that the lack of shelters in their cities will leave them exposed in case a war erupts.
According to data obtained by Ynet, nearly half of Israel's Arabs do not own gas masks, and most of them would have nowhere to hide in case Israel is attacked.
"I won’t be able to remain here if a war breaks out. I've informed relatives in Nablus that in case anything happens our family will be staying with them because there are no secure areas in our city," said Ahmed Masarwa, a father of three from Baqa al-Gharbiya.
"We won't be able to stay here if a war erupts. I don’t want to be a victim of a failed war initiated by a prime minister who cares only for his own interests," Ahmed told Ynet this week.
The parents of Kafr Qara resident Aliya Atamna live in the territories. "I want to protect my children, so I've decided that in the event of a war we'll stay with my parents in the Palestinian Authority," she said.
"It is a scandal that there are no shelters or secure rooms in Arab Israeli communities. The most disappointing thing is that the leaders only take an interest in us before elections."
A tour of Israel's Arab towns paints a bleak picture. The situation is particularly grim in the schools, most of which are old and rundown. Even in those towns where there are shelters, the residents have converted them into storage rooms.
"The Arab sector is not prepared for a war or an earthquake. If, God forbid, a missile falls in one of the Arab communities many students will be killed because there are no shelters," said Assam Omar, Parents' Committee secretary for the Arab sector.
"Even the Arab Knesset members are not doing anything about it and prefer to deal with other matters that are not related to the sector," he claimed. "I urge parents not to send their children to school should a war break out."
The head of the parents' committee at the elementary school in the village of Arara said the IDF Home Front Command informed him that the construction of shelters is the responsibility of the local authorities. "The school is old and poses a danger to the students. It would be better if it were rebuilt," Assam Younes said.
Zemer Local Council head Samir Darwish said he has informed the government of the urgent need to build shelters in the Arab sector, "but I was told that there is no budget for it.
"More than 50% of Israeli Arabs do not own gas masks, because they are distributed in distant shopping malls and families have a hard time reaching them," he claimed.
Sami Ali, head of Jisr al-Zarqa's residents committee, where shelters were converted into classes, offices or storage rooms told Ynet "The village, like the entire Arab sector, has long since been discriminated against by the State and its institutions. The village has almost no public shelters, and those we do have lack the necessary equipment. Two of our eight schools do not have shelters, meaning that if a war breaks out some 1,400 students will be in danger."