The IDF is not doing enough to protect western Negev residents from possible mortar shell and Qassam rocket fire during the post-disengagement era, representatives of the Eshkol Regional Council in the western Negev said.
Official representatives of towns located near Gaza said the security establishment has allocated only NIS 30 million (about USD 7 million) out of the NIS 110 million (about USD 26 million) it has promised to set aside for the protection of Negev area towns and Kibbutzim.
The council members sent a letter to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz urging him to allocate the remaining funds.
During Home Front Command Head Gershon Yitzhaky's tour of the western Negev area Tuesday, local town representatives expressed their demand that the IDF protect towns around Gaza. The area's residents fear terror attacks on the area would commence immediately after the scheduled pullout from Gaza is complete.
The controversial issues remain the construction of secured shelters in towns that are not located near the security fence surrounding Gaza, the shielding of rooftops so they would be able to withstand possible mortar shell and Qassam rocket fire, the construction of fences around the area's towns, and the supplying of shielded fire-proof tractors to the region's farmers.
Brigadier General Tzvika Fogel (reserves), who is representing the residents, said there cannot be a situation in which the IDF would not supply protected roofs to kindergartens and schools and other public buildings located within the range of mortar shell and Qassam rocket fire.
He said the protection works must begin immediately, and not in three month's time when the pullout operation is expected to end.
"The date set by the IDF endangers the lives of the region's residents," Fogel said.
An IDF official said the military is thoroughly examining the residents' claims but that it also has to consider the budgets that were approved by the Defense and Finance ministries.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said in response, "The Defense Ministry and the IDF have devised a complete plan for the construction of protection apparatus in towns surrounding Gaza."