Thursday's Qassam attack
Photo: AFP
Barak. Special situation
Photo: Alon Ron

'Special situation' in Sderot to continue

Defense Minister Barak decides to lengthen 'special situation' in Sderot and Gaza Vicinity communities following midweek Qassam salvo on area

Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced Friday the continuance of the 'special situation in the homefront' declared on Sderot and the Gaza Vicinity communities in April.


The government approved Barak's order via telephone referendum. The bill will later be brought before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.


The decision follows the latest Qassam salvo fired on Sderot, in which more than 30 rockets were launched at the city in a 48-hour period. A 'special situation effectively makes the security establishment take an active role in aiding the population in the greater Gaza area until at least March 2008.


Thursday's Qassam attacks left two women moderately injured, prompting a protest by the embattled residents, who claim that the fortification of their homes is the only way to protect against the makeshift projectiles that are constantly lobbed their way from northern Gaza.


Sderot residents filed a High Court petition against the government in September, citing it had failed to keep its pledge to fortify residential buildings in their battered city.


The government responded to the petition by saying that the decision had broad implications: "The issue is not limited to this context and is closely linked to various other matters that will have ramifications on Israel's security, image and deterrent capabilities.


"It affects the ability of residents in conflict areas to remain steadfast in the face of the attacks and has various budgetary repercussions," the statement read.


Creative solutions

Residents without safe rooms at home have come up with creative solutions to protect against the Qassam threat. Carmit Eliasi has three small children who have already been gotten used to sleeping in the hallway.


"It's the safest place. Every night we put the mattresses out there and we all sleep there for fear that I won't hear the Color Red warning and, in any case, the only place I have to run to (to take cover) is the hallway and it is not really a satisfactory defense.


"If we had a safe room, we would go there when the rocket fire begins. I am sitting and waiting for someone to hear us and understand that this is the only thing that can save our children," she said.


Some residents have already despaired with the government's failure to protect them and decided to take matters into their own hands. Limor Ohana purchased a safe room for her house at a cost of thousands of dollars, despite the difficulties she encountered with the municipality.


"I have two small children and I cannot abandon them to them government's charity so we decided to build a safe room ourselves because it was clear that the government would not fortify the houses under any condition.


"A safe room is, at the end of the day, the only solution to saving our children's lives. If the State won't protect us, then we'll do it the only that we're able to."


Roni Sofer and Efrat Weiss contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.14.07, 12:16
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