Our politicians cannot see beyond their nose: They secured a lull with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and then got tired and went to get some rest. Barely three weeks have passed, and they already forgot why they reached a truce in the first place.
The ceasefire is the first lull in Hamas’ “war of independence” since it took over Gaza. The group uses every moment in this lull in order to better organize and build up strength ahead of the next round of fighting. And what do our leaders do in order to take advantage of the lull ahead of the next round? Nothing. We’re on vacation.
What bothers Gaza-region residents more than anything is the fortification of homes. They are fed up with the promises by now. If the homes are not fortified people will be leaving. Gaza-region municipal leaders are concerned that area residents will use the summer vacation to seek alternatives somewhere else. If nothing is done on the fortification front by the end of the vacation, many residents may not return.
Seemingly, the lull came at the right time. Residents could have expected to see their communities flooded by contractors and laborers the moment quiet prevailed, with secured rooms being constructed at a dizzying pace. After all, this is what was decided; this is precisely what the government promised.
Moreover, it is clear to everyone that the relative quiet brought by the lull is only temporary, and that every day that passes without it being used for building fortifications and improving our anti-rocket alert system is a wasted day. Yet for the time being, nothing has changed on the ground. Not one brick has been laid, and no wall has been moved.
Yet the decision has already been taken. The 2008 State Budget includes a sum of NIS 327 million (roughly $100 million) earmarked for the fortification of 3,300 apartments at 12 Gaza-region communities, including Sderot. Six months have passed since this amount was designated for this end, and on the ground there is nothing but silence.
We are being told that some contracts have been initiated for now. In some cases this was done by residents and in other cases by the Housing Ministry. By the end of 2009, perhaps, the secured rooms will be built as planned. We can only hope that Hamas and the lull will adjust themselves to this timetable.
Municipal leaders clearly understand that this issue requires the prime minister’s intervention. He needs to stimulate a speedy effort and accelerate matters. He needs to decide and order the Treasury to hand over funds for fortification. If there is no fortification, there will be no people either.
The IDF Home Front Command and Defense Ministry object to the evacuation of communities under fire, on principle. Yet if there is no fortification, nobody will be asking them. People will do what they see fit. So if officials do not intend to invest in fortification, they should invest in evacuation plans and in the re-housing of tens of thousands of people.
Even if the truce is violated, and the IDF proceeds to operate inside the Gaza Strip, Qassam rockets and mortar shells will continue to land for some time at least. So why don’t we take decisions now, instead of improvising later?