A fortified kindergarten in Sderot
Photo: Gadi Kabalo

Southern outrage: 'Instead of a defensive battery – a platoon of lawyers'

Residents of Qassam-riddled south not surprised by government's abdication from necessity to fortify area, but they also refuse to stop protesting. Sderot Mayor: 'Government does not fight terror'

The residents of Sderot were not shocked to hear of the government's position before the High Court of Justice on Monday that from a legal standpoint, it is not obligated to fortify the city. Several petitions on the issue have been presented to the court in the past, and the state has often responded in a way that did not please citizens living with the threat of Qassam fire.


Chairman of the Sderot Parent's Committee Sasson Sara responded to the government's position: "The job of the government is to protect its citizens. The state must defend us. In the anthem we sing 'to be a free nation in our own land,' but I can not be free in my home, in my business, in my city. I am very worried because who knows what will come next- maybe the complete abandonment of Sderot."


Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said that while he was not involved in the aforementioned petition, he has always considered it the duty of the state to act aggressively, not to fortify.


"This government is not fighting terror. I see the handling of this operation they have been speaking about for two years already."


Eli Moyal. "No substantial action against the Qassams" (Photo: Amir Cohen)


"There is no doubt that we are talking about a very, very complicated issue; everyone is right here," Moyal added. "On one hand – the state cannot fortify everyplace. Today Sderot, tomorrow Ashkelon, Netivot, Ofakim. Thus, from an economic standpoint it could reach tens of millions of shekels. On the other hand, residents need to feel secure because there is not substantial action being taken against the Qassams."


Eshkol Regional Council President Haim Levin claimed that the government's position is immoral and unprincipled. "It is acting like a landlord bargaining with a tenant by using all kinds of legalistic casuistry. Maybe from a legal standpoint this is correct, but it is hard to respect a government that prefers hiding behind a platoon of lawyers instead of solving the problem and thinking about a defensive battery for the residents."


"Hamas alone determines our agenda"

Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council President Alon Shuster has protested for quite some the lack of sufficient protection for residents' houses. Two days ago Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On told Kadima members in Ashkelon that "we are not a people that hides behind defensive structures, but a people that goes on the offensive."


Shuster said: "Are the residents of Sderot and the southern hot zone worth less than those of the northern hot zone- in whom the government has invested billions? Do the mother from Kibbutz Nir-Am, the old man from Sderot, and the child from Kibbutz Gabim not require the same piece of mind? A government that does not prevent rockets and mortars from being fired at its territory cannot escape its direct responsibility for the safety of the residents and the fortification of their homes."


Yael Tayri: "The government unilaterally abdicating responsibility" (Photo Tzafrir Abayov")


Sderot resident Yael Tayri once wrote a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert demanding him to act to fortify residents' homes and stop Qassam fire. "The prime minister responded in a personal letter that he would do everything to aid area residents, and now all of a sudden I hear the government's response to the High Court of Justice and it’s quite outrageous," she said.


I think that everyone has rights and obligations. We, the citizens of Sderot, carry out our obligations – we pay taxes, our children go to the army, we ourselves served in the army- and it is thus the state's obligation to protect us. Unfortunately the government has abdicated its responsibility unilaterally."


"I don't have a secure room in my house," Tayri told ynet. "Every time a rocket falls on Sderot I rely on the grace of God, because I have no one else left to depend on. Unfortunately, Hamas is the one today setting the agenda in the city and not the Israeli government. They determine when we get up, send our children to school, and go shopping- it has been like this for years already. It’s a pity this government only reveals the same obtuseness regarding fortification."


פרסום ראשון: 12.11.07, 17:00
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