Sderot residents and leaders dismissed President Barack Obama's
reference to their town on Tuesday, accusing the leader of using them as a campaign tool.
During the final US presidential debate
on Monday, Obama alluded to his trip to Sderot
as proof of his commitment to the Jewish state, dismissing a jab by Republican challenger Mitt Romney over the president's failure to travel to Israel
after being elected.
"The reference to the trip was a political statement and nothing more," said Kobi Harush, who heads Sderot's security division. "It's part of the internal struggle in the US. The reality is that Sderot and the entire region come under fire every day.
"Someone has to remind him that the rocket fire continued since his visit," he added.
Obama in Sderot in 2008 (Photo: AFP)
"This isn't the first time that Obama is using his visit here as a winning card," said Pinhas Amar, a Sderot resident who met with the leader during his trip to the border town in 2008. Amar's home was hit by a Qassam rocket nearly five years ago, and he has since been out of work. Only recently he completed the therapy he needed to overcome the trauma.
"I am disappointed in his attitude towards Israel and his failure to keep his promises," he added. "In my opinion he doesn't really like Israel. He only visited here to get the Jewish vote."
Nevertheless, Amar speculated that Obama would prevail over Romney in the elections next month.
"He's a charmer," he said. "He knows his rhetoric and has a very sharp tongue. He knows how to persuade people while looking them in the eye, but it's all a sham. He says one thing, but he means another."
Amar speculated that Obama wouldn't be partner to a strike on Iran
should the need for one arise.
"We will have to deal with it alone," he said.
Monday's debate (Photo: Reuters)
"World leaders and the US president in particular mention Sdeort and their concern for the town as an expression of their concern for the State of Israel," Sderot Mayor David Buskila added.
He further blasted Israel's government for "not caring" about the residents of his city.
"It's insulting for every resident of Sderot," he said. "They are spitting in the face of the heroic residents who protect the State of Israel, while the State of Israel fails to protect them in every way."
During Monday's debate, Romney slammed Obama for travelling to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq but "skipping" Israel during his presidency.
Obama quickly replied: "When I went to Israel as a candidate I didn’t take donors, I didn't attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.
"And then I went to the border town of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas and I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms."