Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Olmert
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Gadi Kabalo
Mayor Moyal (left) with Qassam rocket
Photo: Gadi Kabalo
Alert system required in Ashkelon?
Argument breaks out during meeting in PM's Office regarding activation of Qassam alert system. Defense Minister Peretz is in favor, but PM's Office opposes. Peretz responds angrily to Director-General Dinur: 'Do you want to take responsibility on yourself?' Government decides to expedite fortification of schools
A conflict has emerged between the offices of the prime minister and the defense minister over the proposal to activate the Color Red rocket alert system in the city of Ashkelon as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was opposed to the move and Defense Minister Amir Peretz was in favor of it.


The conflict emerged during a meeting in the prime minister's office on the issue of fortifying Ashkelon, Sderot, and the communities of the Gaza vicinity. During the meeting, the forum decided that the government will expedite the fortification of the education institutions in Sderot and the communities of the western Negev.


During the meeting, Defense Minister Peretz blasted Raanan Dinur, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office , who said that he opposes the activation of the Color Red alert in Ashkelon. "It has far reaching consequences," Dinur said.


Peretz responded and asked Dinur if he wants to take the responsibility on yourself. "If you have information it needs to be shared with the population," he said.


The defense establishment has so far supported the activation of the alert system but up until this point, no official decision was reached on this issue.


The meeting included the prime minister and the ministers of defense, internal security, education, interior, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, Ashkelon Mayor Ronny Mahazri, and council heads of four regional councils in the western Negev.


Sderot mayor: Situation getting worse

The decisions reached in the meeting included a complete fortification of kindergartens, daycare centers, and schools up to sixth grade. The middle schools and high schools will only be fortified with reinforces safe areas.


At the conclusion of the meeting Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said that he is satisfied with the decision. However, he told Ynet: "I am very worried. The situation is getting worse. During the past month, I have lost four kilos of my own weight. The residents of Sderot are in anxiety. I don't see any solution to the Qassam fire on Sderot."


Olmert also referred earlier to Mayor Moyal, the person who has turned to be his public nemesis, and said that he "finds a positive change in the local leadership." Moyal told Ynet that the reconciliation between him and the prime minister was needed so ego considerations would not turn to be detrimental to the security of the residents.


"We arrived at an understanding in order to allow for good solutions to be found for the benefit of the residents of my city. I, after all, do not carry the responsibility alone. There is a government in Israel and it needs to give the answers."


Education Minister Yuli Tamir presented her plans to assist the population in Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities. She told Ynet that she is acting towards establishing a plan to relieve the students and teachers of Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities.


"In the meantime we are not talking about budgets. Now we need to act, and only then find the money. We need to help the residents who are under attack, the children and the teachers in the schools," she said.


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