Beset by a lack of authority and squeezed in every direction by bodies with similar mandates, the Home Front Defense Ministry has struggled to carve out a space in the sprawling Israeli security community since its establishment in 2011.
On Tuesday, the ministry may have been dealt a death blow after its director announced he would resign, and hours later, the government minister in charge of the authority asked to also step down and shutter the ministry.
In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan recommended dismantling the ministry, and transferring all of its responsibilities to the Defense Ministry.
The decision followed a longstanding dispute between the Defense Ministry and Home Front Defense Ministry regarding the delegation of authority.
“Out of concern to the public interest and the security of the home front, I decided to do the right thing in this situation,” Erdan wrote.
The home front needs a unified, centralized body to handle it in the most professional manner possible, he added.
Jurisdiction over the task of home front defense is divided between various ministries and organizations. The Israel Defense Forces, which has its own home front defense units, the police, the Defense Ministry, the Public Security Ministry, the Home Front Defense Ministry and local municipalities all have a part in assisting the civilian population during times of crisis, but with no clearly defined distribution of authority or structured hierarchy among them.
“In order to avoid the continued overlap and the waste of public funds, it is advisable to place the full responsibility of the preparation of the home front, in both routine and emergency [situations], with the defense ministry,” Erdan wrote.
Earlier Tuesday, Director General Dan Ronen said he would be stepping down from his position at the end of April, after less than a year in office.
In a letter sent to employees, Ronen attributed his decision to the failure of the Defense Ministry to delegate authority to the Home Front Defense Ministry, a move he said proves that “without authority, there is no responsibility.”
Ronen decried the “misconduct” of the Defense Ministry regarding its affiliate ministry and its employees, he wrote, but did not elaborate.
Erdan also serves as communications minister, and would likely keep this position in the event his resignation as home front defense minister is accepted.
The minister warned Netanyahu that he would make this recommendation in a meeting last Monday.
Ronen’s predecessor, Gabi Ophir, resigned from the position in June 2013 after eight months, citing a lack of clear policy.
The Home Front Defense Ministry was established in 2011 to provide the state with emergency response in case of natural or national disasters.
Mitch Ginsburg and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.