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Qassam-ridden Sderot.  Too dangerous Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman
Qassam-ridden Sderot. Too dangerous Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman

State disengaging from Sderot

Courts ban representatives from traveling to rocket-battered town, citing life-threatening danger posed to them there. Delivery of subpoenas to its residents now falls on shoulders of local police

Matan Zuri
Published: 06.03.08, 12:17 / Israel News

When Sderot’s residents protest they are treated like second-class citizens and claim the government has deserted them - there alarmingly seems to be more to their cry than what detractors call hyperbolic hysteria.


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For the town where thousands of families grimly face daily rocket and mortar barrages from neighboring Gaza has been declared too dangerous a destination for court officials tasked with delivering subpoenas to Sderot residents, at least by the chief justice overseeing the Magistrates' courts in southern Israel.


Israel's subpoena delivery procedures dictate a messenger or court official must personally serve papers informing citizens of an indictment filed against them or a summon to testify in court and have the recipient sign for them.


But this is no longer the case in Sderot and other Gaza-vicinity communities. Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Justice Moshe Machlis has recently issued a new guideline forbidding court employees from traveling to Sderot to serve residents with subpoenas for fear they may be wounded or killed by a Qassam, or alternatively that in the event the town's roads are closed, the officials would be trapped.


But the wheels of the justice system cannot stop and the some creative judicial thinking seems to have prevented the newfound inability to deliver the papers turn into a debilitating wrench in the works.


And so, Sderot police officers, already burdened by a plethora of tasks 'unloaded' onto them by various State institutions, will trade their sidearms for pens and set about knocking on the doors of those subpoenaed, confirmation forms in hand.


They will do this alongside providing advice on property tax, debt collection responsibilities (including eviction notices), and caring for anxiety-wracked residents .


Truth be told, Sderot’s residents have been getting the same reply - 'Sorry, it's too dangerous there' - from vendors, private companies and even insurance firms for the past eight years.


“They keep telling me – wait for the rockets to stop and then place your order, then we'll come,” says Shimon Malka, who owns a catering company. “I have to beg them to supply merchandise. If it’s urgent, I usually travel to meet them outside the city. It's ludicrous.”


The Court Administration confirmed the new guideline. “Due to the security situation in Sderot and the region, the chief justice overseeing the southern Magistrates' Courts has ordered the delivery of subpoenas for court dates within 21 days time will be served by the Sderot police. Those with dates over that period will be sent by registered mail with a confirmation slip."


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