Hundreds of Sderot residents flocked to the local city hall Thursday afternoon, with the hope of being granted a spot on one of the buses taking locals to Eilat for a week-long vacation courtesy of business mogul Arcadi Gaydamak.
Gaydamak has complied with the request of the town's parents association and announced Thursday that he would fund a hotel stay in the southern resort town for every family that desires to leave.
The problem: Only 600 to a thousand spots were allocated by Gaydamak, and the demand far exceeds the supply.
'What if a Qassam falls?' (Photo: Amir Cohen)
Sderot policemen had trouble handling the excited crowd and blocked all entrances to the city hall's area. The residents, who were forced to wait more than two hours, began to lose patience.
Alice Peretz, who arrived at the place with her two children, said: "There's a terrible commotion here, and I fear that the Red Dawn alert system will go off. I don't want to think what will happen if it does, because people have no place to go now."
"We are waiting and hoping that we will be able to get on the buses. We signed up, like everyone else, but there's so much confusion and noise, and people are scared that a Qassam will fall, something that is very likely nowadays," she added.
Gaydamak's spokesman said places on the buses will be found for all the people wishing to go. "Everyone here will go to Eilat. No one will stay here. There are already 17 buses arriving now that will pick the people up, and we assume that in the next hours everybody will be out of here."
Sderot city council officials, who objected to the move to evacuate the residents from town, refused to cooperate with Gaydamak, fearing that Sderot will become a "ghost town." Municipal sources estimated that the initiative to evacuate residents will cause a row, as the registration for the trip was carried out in an unorganized manner.
Others have already joined Gaydamak's initiative, like mayor of the northern town of Kiryat Ata, Yaakov Peretz, who has already declared that his town was ready to host the children of Sderot in case it is decided to evacuate them. Peretz said, "We remember the terrified look in our children's eyes during the last war, and will do anything to help the children of the south."
Defense Minister Amir Peretz, the town's resident, announced Thursday that hundreds of Sderot's children will be sent to recreational facilities of the Friends of the IDF in Givat Olga, for a "vacation of relaxation."
The Jewish Agency will also take some 500 children from the communities surrounding Gaza for recreational activities in central Israel Friday.
Additionally, mayors and organizations from across the country have offered to host children from town, and the Education Ministry has also promised its support.
Sderot residents said that the turmoil surrounding the evacuation to Eilat illustrates the great desire of locals to leave the town, adding that many have already begun leaving.