Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Wednesday. However, representatives from some of these communities declined to meet him, citing "scheduling issues."
On Tuesday, Netanyahu's office announced that he would be arriving to meet with mayors and representatives of communities in southern Israel, located within a range of up to 7 kilometers from the border. Later, for an unclear reason, his office said that he would only meet with communities within a range of up to 4 kilometers from Gaza.
Leaders of regional councils in southern Israel invited representatives of communities near the Gaza border to the meeting. However, it appears that some representatives decided to boycott the event.
The representatives officially announced that the meeting "does not suit their current schedule, as they are located far away from the set border." The residents of most communities bordering Gaza have been evacuated to hotels across the country in the early days of the war.
All regional councils reported that they agreed to meet with Netanyahu, and said in a statement, "We invited representatives of the southern communities to present their needs and demands — especially after being evacuated from their homes. Some have announced they will come, and some have said that the meeting doesn’t suit them. No one has officially stated that they are boycotting the meeting, but from their tone, it’s clear they simply don’t want to meet Netanyahu due to their baggage."
Representatives from Kibbutz Be’eri, who refused to attend the meeting with Netanyahu, said, "Kibbutz Be’eri doesn’t, and will not boycott Israel’s prime minister. If the prime minister wants to come to Kibbutz Be’eri, see the horrors that occurred on October 7, and have a discussion about Be’eri’s reconstruction, we would always be happy to host him with prior notice and without media presence."
Kibbutz Nir Oz joined Kibbutz Be’eri and opted not to send representatives to the meeting. The kibbutz said in a statement that the format of the meeting was not agreed to by the community.
Osnat Peri, chairperson of Kibbutz Nir Oz, said, "We offer the prime minister to meet with all residents of the kibbutz. With the children, parents, families and adults who survived the terrible massacre on October 7. It’s not only representatives of the communities who need answers, but all of us. All of us deserve to know why a quarter of our kibbutz was kidnapped or murdered."