The importance of urban renewal has been addressed extensively and comprehensively over the last few years in various forums.
Elsewhere in the world, the aim of urban renewal is to prevent the collapse of hazardous buildings and/or increase their earthquake resistance. In Israel, urban renewal takes on another dimension, due to the threat of rocket attacks and the associated security risks.
The issue was addressed in a report by the Israeli Urban Renewal Agency, summarising progress during the year 2022: “Due to the geographical location of the State of Israel and the geopolitical situation, the process of urban renewal has various advantages: increasing the resilience of residential buildings and municipal infrastructures to earthquake and other natural catastrophes, as well as security threats the public is exposed to, such as rocket attacks”.
Prioritising urban renewal is therefore essential. The government needs to take immediate steps to reduce the bureaucracy that prevents these projects from moving ahead.
The rocket threat and the solution: Urban renewal
It is vital to devise creative and effective solutions to address the challenges that the construction industry faces with arranging insurance cover for urban renewal projects. These difficulties partly arise from the way that international reinsurers view these types of projects, due to their inherent technical complexities and the high risk of property damage and bodily injury arising from urban renewal projects, exacerbated by the fact that they are carried out in dense urban spaces, near or in existing buildings, in environments which are far from being sterile and in some cases when the residents continue to live in buildings (National Outline Plan 38 – earthquake reinforcement, modernisation and extension projects).
Not only resilience and strength – a significant drive for the construction of protected spaces
Urban renewal projects also provide a solution to the lack of bomb shelters in old apartment buildings whose residents have to seek cover in public shelters (or in stairwells, which in themselves are quite unsafe). According to data from the Israel Builders Association, around 62% of homes in Israel do not have a protected space.
Urban renewal projects including building protected spaces in old buildings and/or in new apartments is critical, exacerbated by the increase in rocket attacks over the last few years to various areas in Israel, from the north to the south. In the current conflict, a long range rocket from Gaza have managed to reach the Galilee, a distance of some 250 km.