An initiative crafted to enhance the capabilities of local authorities in conflict-prone areas, empowering them to respond adeptly to evolving needs and deliver commendable services to residents during both routine and crisis events.
During the Iron Sword War, thousands of residents from the Gaza envelope, Upper Galilee, and Golan Heights found themselves compelled to evacuate their homes due to the ongoing security situation. Consequently, numerous local authorities were tasked with the sensitive and complex responsibility of assimilating evacuated families into the local fabric of life for prolonged periods, extending over weeks or even months.
The war has emphasized the need to fortify the resilience of local authorities in the geo-social periphery of Israel, enabling them to adeptly address challenges during crises and emergency events. Local government resilience in this context signifies the capacity of a locality to maintain service continuity, uphold the functionality of diverse municipal systems to deliver sufficient services in times of crisis, and swiftly recover to normalcy in routine operations.
The Menomadin Foundation has crafted a specialized program to enhance municipal resilience, planned for implementation in 10 municipalities situated in conflict-prone areas in both the north and south of Israel. The process involves an examination of the unique challenges and needs in each locality, setting goals accordingly. Within this framework, all relevant parties, both within the authority and external, will collaborate to establish a platform that facilitates optimal coping with routine challenges and emergencies. The initiative will be complemented by a systematic impact measurement process, assessing the effectiveness of the venture in achieving defined goals, identifying areas for improvement, and enabling informed, data-based decision-making.
Tiberias’ Remarkable Journey
The Menomadin Foundation’s Local Government Resilience initiative stems from the experience, knowledge, and expertise we’ve gained through years of activity in the city of Tiberias. Ranked in the 4th socio-economic cluster, Tiberias confronts significant challenges. Prolonged managerial instability made it difficult to allocate budgets, resulting in a significant and ongoing deficit. Being heavily reliant on tourism, Tiberias faced a severe blow during the COVID-19 period, witnessing an unemployment rate surge to 33%. In response to these challenges, a temporary local government was appointed, driven to transform the city into the prosperous capital of the Galilee it was destined to be. Under the new leadership, Tiberias became a key participant in two highly strategic initiatives: the Day After Coalition, dedicated to promoting informal education and a sense of community; and a comprehensive initiative to develop a municipal education plan. This endeavor resulted in an education program precisely tailored to address Tiberias’ unique needs.
An important lesson learned from the education initiative was that improving education is closely tied to a larger context. As a result, the choice was made to broaden the initiative to include more municipal systems. Tiberias participated in a tender from the Ministry of Welfare and was selected to join the Local Government Mobilization initiative. This opened the door for collaboration between the Menomadin Foundation, Joint-Ashalim, and the municipal professional team, fostering a participatory municipal process alongside the local community. Together, they actively involved key local sectors such as education, welfare, healthcare, and community services to enhance opportunities for children, youth, and young adults in the city across various aspects of life.
The combined efforts of the municipality’s diverse departments, guided by external experts, have established a robust infrastructure for internal communication, streamlined work processes, and effective decision-making. This framework contributes to an exceptional resilience at the local level. We received clear confirmation of this resilience during the Iron Sword War when Tiberias, with approximately 50,000 residents, effectively accommodated over 10,000 evacuees—about 20% of its population—without disrupting the daily routines of the city’s residents.
These evacuees arrived in Tiberias from 22 different settlements in the south and north, some with no personal belongings, and were provided accommodation in hotels and guesthouses throughout the city. The municipality took on the responsibility of providing them with health, welfare, and community services, in addition to establishing educational frameworks for approximately 2,500 students. In addition to successfully integrating the evacuees and their children into existing structures, the municipality is seizing the crisis as an opportunity. It is establishing educational frameworks and community institutions that, while currently serving the evacuees, are intended to benefit the city’s residents in the long run.