When consulting the frontline command about the safest spot during a rocket siren, the unanimous response prioritizes standard shelters in buildings.
The recommendation is to descend to the shelter and remain there until the threat subsides. The thick doors and the upward explosion pattern of rockets make underground shelters significantly safer than anywhere else.
Surprisingly, the apartment shelter ranks third in the defensive rating, with the underground shelter securing the top position and an above-ground shelter in second place.
Meanwhile, according to the Home Front Command, the stairwell claims the fourth spot.
What if there is no shelter?
Older buildings can lack shelters or emergency rooms. In such cases, the best option is a windowless concrete stairwell.
Ex-deputy IDF head Yair Golan recounts an incident in Ashkelon where three girls sought refuge in a stairwell during an attack. Despite damage to the building, they emerged unharmed.
Another secure location is an underground parking lot, protected against potential threats.
Conversely, Eran Siv, chairman of the Renovation Contractor Union in Israel, warns against bathrooms and toilets as the most dangerous places during an attack. Porcelain can turn into sharp objects, and shattered mirrors pose additional risks.
Furthermore, experts advise lying down with closed legs and hands on the head when in an open area during an alarm. Drivers are urged to pull over to the side of the road and distance themselves from the vehicle, as gasoline may ignite, leading to potential injuries.
In some building, shelters have been inactive
However, a critical issue in 2023 is the inactivity of most shelters. Thousands of housing estates built to accommodate aliyah in Israel’s early decades remain untouched by urban renewal. Bureaucracy, tenant reluctance, and a lack of financial interest hinder progress, especially in the periphery where dangers loom.
Presently, shelters are often inconveniently distant for the elderly, leaving them reliant on prayers or seeking refuge in stairwells if they lack emergency rooms.
Governmental and Urban Renewal Authority efforts need to be revised. Over the past decade until 2020, a mere 17,777 building permits were issued for evacuation and construction projects, averaging only 1,700 permits annually nationwide. This insufficient number falls far short of addressing the ongoing housing crisis.
Highlighting the severity of neglect, Minister of Construction and Housing Yitzhak Goldknopf recently allocated NIS 75 million for shelter use in northern settlements. This allocation underscores the longstanding disregard for the issue over the years.