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Residents demand better fortification
Photo: Avi Roccah
Barak and Sderot Mayor Moyal – puzzled by delay
Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry
Negev residents demand secured rooms
Southern residents to protest in Jerusalem Sunday during ministerial committee meeting called to rule on fortification of homes; Defense Minister Barak takes jab at Olmert, says he's puzzled by delay in transferring funds earmarked for fortification
Southern residents demand security: Residents of the southern Negev desert will be holding a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday.

 

Local residents, headed by regional council head Alon Shuster, will be protesting while a ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convenes in order to rule on fortifying Sderot and Gaza-region homes.

 

Shuster said that more than a year after PM Olmert promised immediate fortification for area residents, "we hope that proper decisions will be taken tomorrow and that the ministerial committee will adopt the IDF Home Front's decision to set up secured rooms, rather than all sorts of partial fortification solutions."

 

"We will not accept any solution except for secured rooms," Shuster said.

 

Barak: Puzzled by delay

Meanwhile, another conflict seems to be brewing between Olmert and Defense Minister Barak, who said he is puzzled by the continuing delay in handing over the NIS 300 million (roughly $70 million) earmarked for the fortification of Sderot and Gaza-region communities.

 

"We've head enough delays. That money should have been transferred a while ago," Barak said during closed-door conversations over the weekend. "I'm puzzled by the reasons for the continued delay."

 

Olmert announced his intention to earmarked approximately NIS 320 million for the fortification of rocket-battered communities about six months ago, However, since then only NIS 50 million were transferred to the Housing and Construction Ministry.

 

Still, sources at the Prime Minister's Office said the issue did not come under Barak's jurisdiction. "How is the defense minister related to this? After all, the money needs to be transferred to the Housing and Construction Ministry," one official said.

 

The source noted that the ministerial committee examined three options for using the money and rejected two of them. The rejected plans included a proposal to build secure rooms at all communities at a range of 15 kilometers (roughly 10 miles) from Gaza, estimated at NIS 5 billion (approximately $1.4 billion.)

 

"During the ministerial committee's meeting, the alternatives for using the money in accordance with the third option will be presented," the official added. "One way or another, the solution will only cover some of the homes in Sderot and the Gaza region. The prime minister promised a decision in February and he will deliver."

 

Qassam drills in Ashkelon

On Saturday, hundreds of residents arrived at the protest tent in Jerusalem, including about 60 motorcyclists and students. A night of singing with Jerusalem teenagers was held Saturday evening.

 

On Sunday, about 1,200 students and other protestors are expected to head to Jerusalem for the planned demonstration.

 

Meanwhile, officials at the southern town of Ashkelon are preparing to hold Qassam drills at schools. Security officials say that educational institutions have already been connected to the "Red Color" alert system, and all that is left now is to make a decision on activating the system.

 

Qassam lull ends

Meanwhile, following day a of relative calm in the south, Palestinian terrorists renewed the Qassam attacks on Israel Saturday, firing eight rockets at western Negev communities during the morning and afternoon hours. At least two more rockets were fired later in the evening and landed near a southern kibbutz.

 

The earlier rockets landed in open fields in the Shaar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Eshkol regional councils. No injuries or damage were reported in the attacks.

 

The Popular Resistance Committees’ military wing, the Salah al-Din Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.

 

Roni Sofer contributed to report 

 


First published: 16.02.08, 20:46
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