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Israeli response to mass death

Jay Levinson (John Jay College, New York, New York, USA)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




In recent years Israel has had extensive experience of dealing with mass disasters. Its response mechanism is always adapting itself to new threat patterns. This paper aims to focus on Israel's disaster response activities.


The paper is based on personal research and experience and reviews disaster response in Israel.


From the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 until the late‐1980s, disaster response, even in the civilian sector, was considered a military responsibility. The Israel Police was viewed at best as a support to the army, rendering purely technical assistance such as fingerprint comparison for victim identification. Although the civilianization of response became predominant during recurrent terrorist attacks of the 1990s, the army still continues its planning under the previous model as governmental authorities refrain from intervention. In the new working framework the Israel Police and other civilian offices, both official and volunteer, have accrued considerable practical experience in responding to disasters and mass death situations.

Practical implications

Numerous lessons learnt with practical application are described. The paper highlights that what was successful yesterday gives no guarantee for the future. Planning must always be up to date with current technology and trends.


The paper is original and no similar work exists.



Levinson, J. (2011), "Israeli response to mass death", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 485-498.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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