Some 500 people attended a protest march Saturday night in a southern junction near Sderot. The rally was organized by members of the movement for the future of the western Negev; the demonstrators, residents of Gaza-border communities, called on the government to stop neglecting the south.
"They do not notice us and we have had enough," said the protesters as they marched, carrying torches, to the junction where the rally was held. Anat Hefez, a representative of the group, demanded the prime minister helped create a new reality in southern Israel through a diplomatic resolution in Gaza.
"Dozens of Israelis were killed and hundreds injured in this violent conflict. Billions were invested in the area and billions disappeared. We refuse to continue to serve as a human shield to the austerity and the helplessness of the Israeli government," she said.
The representative for the left-wing group said the prime minister must reach a solution through diplomacy. "We demand the prime minister fulfill his commitment – to enter negotiations for a political resolution in Gaza to create a new reality for the south. Only an agreement could lead to comprehensive security in the long-term."
Hefez emphasized: "We will not accept a continuation of the current situation; we will not accept short-term solutions. We demand the government assure our security against the threat of rockets and tunnels."
Tamar Yaron arrived from Tel Aviv to support the southern residents: "The most important struggle for the future of this country is happening right here. I think that the biggest victims of the situation are right here. We need to support them after everything they've been through and are still dealing with."
Tamar said the government had not been adequately caring for the Gaza-border residents. "They need legitimate social support, and unfortunately they are not getting the proper treatment from the government and all those who should have supported them and funded their rehabilitation."
"Thirteen years I've been living in Sderot, and I am tired of staying silent," said Nitza Makan.
"Over the years we trusted successive Israeli government to protect and defend us. We lived from round to round, from operation to operation. At the end Operation Protective Edge, when my child is suffering from difficult traumas, we reached the understandings reached in Pillar of Defense."
"In the end, we got nothing but casualties and injuries. I have personally had it. This is clearly not the way. There must be another way. We feel abandoned," she added.