Ashkelon's outgoing Mayor, Roni Mahatzri, said Saturday that the Gaza Strip lull is dead, following rocket attacks on the southern city throughout Shabbat. The mayor said he fails to understand the government's delay in responding to the ongoing rocket fire.
At least 12 rockets and mortar shells were fired at the city in the past 24 hours and landed in open areas. One rocket hit Ashkelon's southern industrial zone but caused no injuries or damages.
"We saw that when the defense minister wishes to show determination and resolve, he knows how to do that," Mahatzri said. "He did it while handling the case of the house in Hebron. I would like to see the same determination when it comes to the rocket fire. The government must realize that the lull no longer exists, and if they fail to understand it now we shall find ourselves facing very heavy barrages and endless attacks."
"The situation cannot go on like this," the mayor said.
'We demand government response'The past week has seen an escalation in Qassam and mortar attacks on the western Negev, with fire continuing throughout the day. During the weekend the issue was discussed by the four heads of the regional councils in the Gaza vicinity.
The head of the Ashkelon Beach Regional Council, Yair Farjoun, said that he and the other council heads were expecting the government to exact a "price tag" for rocket attacks.
"Over the past few days there has been non-stop Qassam and mortar fire," he said. "This steady drip has become a daily ritual and unfortunately we are not seeing a response. This situation cannot continue. We demand that the government respond."
In past weeks the number of Ashkelon residents appealing for secure rooms in their homes has also increased. The government has not formulated a plan to fund these rooms, and many residents have appealed for benefits from city council if no such plan is forthcoming.