Despite protests, IDF security details for the 13 Gaza-vicinity communities were officially terminated on Thursday morning, as soldiers left their posts and turned over authority to the local residents.
Residents of Netiv Ha'asara demonstrated against the move on Wednesday, but on Thursday held an emotional farewell ceremony for the departing soldiers. "This is a sad day, but mostly it's just frightening. We don't know what will happen from now on, we feel abandoned, and we fear our fate," said Netiv Ha'asara resident Micha Biton.
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The decision to remove IDF security was made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon last September. The cost of maintaining the security arrangements is estimated at tens of millions of shekels annually, but according to high-ranking military officer, the decision was made based on operational considerations alone.
Idit Avisror, mother to three and a local resident, said: "Until today we knew there's someone to guard us, but now we feel alone. Our children are asking questions. They know what a breach threat is and what implications it carries, and their imagination is running wild. The fact there're no more soldiers around scares them. We try to hold back information so as not to develop more anxieties. I ask the defense establishment to reconsider the move since nothing has changed in the security situation."
Netiv HaAsara's security coordinator, Ziv Wolak, said: "It pains me to see them go but it pains me even more that from now on we're vulnerable to an attack. I really hope we'll not rue this day and that we won't come to realize that a mistake on the decision making level has been made."
Another resident, Shaike Shaked, added: "As I see it, you can already start forming the investigative committee that will probe why such an outrageous decision was made, since it's clear that one day we'll find ourselves facing a very serious incident and we'll ask ourselves why there are no soldiers here."
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