Talking Point
Bugtown UK

Israel is shutting down Ben Gurion airport on New Year's Eve because of Y2K fears, even though the country reports air transport as being prepared for possible computer problems.

There will be no take-offs or landings on 31 December or 1 January, a ministerial committee announced on 7 December.

The committee, headed by minister Haim Ramon, has also decided to postpone all non-urgent surgery over the festive period and hospitals will run special emergency rooms.

In addition, no dangerous materials will be transported and from 2 January special permission is needed. Over the millennium weekend, most chemical plants are to close and will be brought back into use in a controlled fashion.

Despite these precautions, Israel is viewed internationally as a low-risk country in terms of the millennium bug.

In November, it declared 90% of its power stations as Y2K compliant and the banking system has said it is fully prepared.

According to the Bank of Israel, the banks have invested considerable resources in the last couple of years preparing for possible millennium bug risks and have overhauled their systems.

The banks have also said they have back-up plans including files, printouts and original documents, to provide customer service if anything does go wrong.

The Bank of Israel has also reported that it has increased its supply of cash and the maximum amount of currency it may put into circulation has been increased from 2.2bn (NIS 15bn) to 4.4bn (NIS 30bn). Banks will close from 31 December until of 2 January for the New Year holiday.

According to a government survey, 89% of the public is aware of the millennium bug compared to less than half in the previous survey in February.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice.

 Compliances Rate 85% (Gartner)
 Gartner Infastructure Problem
 Distribution  Impact
 Power  Isolated  Minor
 Phones  Isolated  Minor
 Gas  Isolated  Minor
 Air  Isolated  Moderate
 Oil  Isolated  Moderate
 Food  Isolated  Minor
 Water  Isolated  Minor
 Govt  Moderate  Moderate
 Banks  Isolated  Minor
 Unrest  Isolated  Minor
 Trade  Isolated  Severe
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