Officials in the Ramat Gan municipality tried yesterday to maintain secrecy regarding the exact site to which the residents of the city would be evacuated in the event of a missile attack on Israel.

However, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the area designated by the municipality for its residents is the “Angels Forest” between Kiryat Gat and Beit Guvrin. According to assessments, the site is capable of absorbing at least several thousand residents, who will choose to take the municipality’s advice and abandon the city in favor of the hiding place.

The work files prepared by the municipality indicate that the residents are supposed to arrive in their private vehicles, supplied with food, drink and perhaps a small tent, which will serve the families for orderly sleeping arrangements in the park. The municipality has already prepared special access paths at the entrances to the park, and when the signal is given, the residents will be provided with the equipment lacking in order to enable their stay in the site, even for several days.

The decision of Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar, which was published yesterday in Yedioth Ahronoth, aroused many reactions among mayors around the country. Bar, however, still stands behind his decision, saying that it is responsible and moral. “If there is any danger, then no tragedy will occur if women and children leave the city for a few days. Such a step on our part will make things easier for the political echelon and enable the country’s leadership to make reasoned decisions. In any case, we will not take action without the authorization of the army and political echelon.”

The residents of Ramat Gan received the decision with mixed feelings:

Many of them did not understand how they were supposed to last through the extended stay at the camping site. City resident Moshe Bublil actually appreciated Bar’s decision: “In the Gulf War, I went to Jerusalem with my four children. We lived there at hotels for nearly a month, and I had to spend nearly NIS 15,000. This is the most orderly and proper solution for residents who do not have the resources to escape to hotels.”

The IDF is reported to dislike the plan of the Ramat Gan municipality, but sources in the Home Front Command said that “the decision whether to leave is the free choice of the residents.” IDF sources said that the Home Front Command is not connected to the plans of the Ramat Gan municipality. Officials in the Home Front Command stated that they had orderly plans for population evacuation, intended for cases of suspicion of a chemical or biological attack on a specific area.

This piece ran in Yediot Aharonot on September 13, 2002