January 19, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that the newly-formed Knesset Independence faction member Matan Vilna'i will head a newly- established homeland security ministry. Vilna'i will also continue in his current role as deputy defense minister.

"No one is more fit than Vilna'i for this post because he has so much experience dealing with this subject," Netanyahu told the assembled ministers and reporters.

"The idea is to upgrade protection of the Home Front" in case of attack, Prime Minister Office Spokesman Mark Regev told Xinhua of the step.

The homeland security ministry was previously a department in the defense ministry.

Israel civilian areas "are targeted by thousands of missiles," Regev said, referring to the reported accumulation of rockets by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The decision comes on the heels of a revised estimate on Monday by Home Front Command officials that civilians would only have about 90 seconds to find cover in case of a missile attack in any future conflict. The previous estimate was two-minutes warning before a missile struck.

Netanyahu pointed out that the United States, along with many other countries have designated such ministries. "Even though no other nation has experienced the rocket threat like us. The State of Israel needs a minister that would take care of the issue separately all the more," he said.


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