In the event of another conflict with Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the National Emergency Authority (NEA) and the local authorities in the South are planning to evacuate all residents within a seven kilometer radius of the strip.
The intended plan is supposed to protect citizens, give them a more liveable environment for the duration of the conflict, and allow the defense establishment to properly deal with the situation at hand without having to worry about interfering in the day-to-day lives of the citizens.
The plan, code-named “Safe Distance”, is being formulated just ten months after the end of Operation Protective Edge. The program will see entire communities located within seven kilometers of Gaza being evacuated to pre-determined locations. Families will be notified in advance of who will be hosting them and to where they will be re-located.
The distribution of elements of this information, including maps, is already underway. If a future conflict ensues, the IDF will determine when to give the order to leave. Buses will be provided for the evacuees.
After giving the order, the army will be responsible for the actual evacuations and for protecting the communities that will be relocated. The army will be charged with prevention of looting in the communities, as well as the real-time reporting to property owners of any damages incurred by rocket fire or otherwise.
Local community councils will select officers, or “watchmen”, to stay behind and safeguard the area. The local authority will also be responsible for the safety of any families who refuse to leave.
According to the plan, the role of the NEA will be to coordinate between the IDF, the local councils, and the individuals, and shorten the waiting and response time within the lines of communication. Local emergency response teams will also be integrated into the system.
The plan was announced days before rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Hamas has claimed that the rocket fire was the result of a conflict between rogue terrorist factions.
In response to the rocket fire, the Israeli Air Force struck four terror targets in the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning. The last time rockets were fired into Israel was April 23, as Israel celebrated its Independence Day.