Mayor David Buskila ended his hunger strike
on Sunday after the government negotiated an aid package to rescue the city from financial collapse.
Five days after Buskila launched his hunger strike, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
and Interior Minister Eli Yishai
agreed on a plan to provide the southern city with NIS 22 million in financial aid.
"We asked for NIS 25 million and got NIS 22 million," he said. "Now we'll at least be able to solve some of the existing problems. The money will be used to pay employees and some of the suppliers and I believe this will help us continue to live in this city."
On Sunday morning, some 50 Sderot municipal workers protested with Buskila outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem demanding promised aid money and accusing the government of ignoring the city's dire financial state.
Protest worked. Sderot municipal workers in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The protesters clashed with police forces after blocking a nearby road and playing a recording of the Color Red siren. Police cleared them and reopened the road. During the protest, Mayor Buskila fell ill and was treated by Magen David Adom medics.
According to the agreement between Interior Ministry director Amram Kalaji, the Finance Ministry's budget chief Reuven Kogan and Sderot Mayor Buskila, the aid money will be transferred in several stages – NIS 17 million have already been approved as part of a municipal restoration plan and an additional NIS 5 million will be given as an aid grant.
It is estimated the city has tens of millions of shekels in debt. Last week, Buskila launched his hunger strike in protest of the situation and camped outside the Prime Minister's Office.
Minister Steinitz said, "The city of Sderot is a symbol. We shall continue to strengthen it and see to the wellbeing of the residents of the Negev in general, and Sderot in particular."
Minister Yishai stated that "The economic state of Sderot and other towns in the periphery cannot be ignored. I am glad we found a solution that allows the transfer of critical funds for the city. I hope they will assist in the city's advancement."