Border community rearms in protest of IDF withdrawal
Kadesh-Barnea decides to rearm emergency squad in protest of IDF's decision to withdraw soldiers protecting border community from area. 'We have families; we're working people; we don't have time, abilities or manpower to protect ourselves,' resident says
Until now, the squad assisted the IDF in its duties. However, in wake of the decision, the responsibility of protecting the moshav falls squarely on the shoulders of its residents – thus leading the community to rearm its squad in protest.
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Shmulik Rifman, the head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council called the decision "bizarre" and said the move "forsakes the lives of residents. There are at least 20 potential border-fence incidents every week."
Kadesh-Barnea had learned of the decision a month ago, and community representatives beseeched the security establishment to make an exception of the community because of their proximity – around 300 meters (just shy of 1000 feet) – to the Egyptian border.
"Our fields run along the border itself," the community's security coordinator Amit Vered said.
Yogev Zadok, a resident of the border community added that "we are not prepared to take responsibility just because the army is withdrawing troops. We're alone. It is impossible and doesn’t make any sense. We have families, we're working people, we don't have the time, abilities or manpower needed to deal with this. If the army goes – we'll remain here, fearful and uncertain. We hear gunfire from across the border almost weekly."
Another resident added that "it is impossible that everything will fall on our shoulders. We will not be able to do the dirty work. We can help, but we will not be the mule."
Regional Council head Rifman was even more pungent: "This decision destroys the cooperation we have maintained up till now between the border communities and the Defense Ministry. It is my assumption that peace has yet to come. This decision is based solely on budgetary concerns and its place is in the garbage bin of history."
Residents openly admit to wanting the soldiers to remain to assist them in cases of serious criminal offences which also take place frequently.
"Since the border-fence was built, criminal activities have become much more violent," the security coordinator said. "We hear gunfire in the area. Until now the soldiers were a reserve force that could respond, but not it falls on residents to do so."
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