A rocket that fell on Sderot
Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman
Sderot. Project damaged infrastructure
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

Joy, anger in Sderot: Many still lacking safe rooms

Ceremony marks completion of first stage of extensive safe room project for residents of town near Gaza, but many frustrated by their continued exposure to threat of Qassam rockets

Sderot residents found a reason for joy Sunday, but as is appropriate for a city bombarded by rockets, celebrations are also connected to Qassams, and contain a significant measure of frustration and resentment.


Hundreds of people marked the completion of the first stage of apartmental protected spaces ("safe rooms") in their homes during an impressive ceremony, while other residents complained of being left behind.


Some NIS 920 million ($243 million) have been invested in the project so far, providing protection for 2,334 households. Ilanit Yosef was not one of the lucky ones, and doesn't understand why her home wasn't prioritized for protection.


"I was amazed to hear about the ceremony today," she said. "Hundreds of Qassam rockets fell near us, and I have a disabled father who can't run when we get the 'Color Red' alert. When there is shooting, we pray for a miracle."


However, hundreds crowded into Sderot's new youth cultural center hall, including Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias (Shas), Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor), Sderot Mayor David Buskila and the heads of the regional councils.


Buskila and other speakers praised the project managers, but Eshkol regional council head Haim Yalin was among those criticizing the event. According to the government decision, he noted, some areas such as Kibbutz Magen are not part of the defensive project, even though rockets fell there too.


Iron Dome won't help all areas

Yalin emphasized that the Iron Dome rocket defense system would not protect the kibbutz either. Vilnai addressed concerns by saying he is chairing a committee investigating the possibility of protecting buildings throughout the country.


"In a few weeks I will submit a nationwide building and public spaces protection plan to answer the defensive needs of all Israeli citizens, because I know what is awaiting us in coming conflict," he said.


The project is complex from an engineering point of view. Safe rooms had to be built in the heard of existing neighborhoods and private houses, causing various problems and complaints from residents about damage to infrastructure.


At the end of the ceremony, a motor cavalcade left for a tour of the area, passing by Ilanit Yosef's home. "I understand that the project has been going on for some time, but nobody tells us what's going on, or when they'll build a safe room for us," she said. "They need to consider, at least tell us when they'll build."


פרסום ראשון: 03.07.10, 21:36
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