MKs: Lack of security in Gaza perimeter is unacceptable

FADC heads to Israeli towns near Gaza, complaining that Defense Ministry assessments do not meet safety needs.

February 20, 2011 21:25
2 minute read.
FADC visits the Gaza perimeter

fadc gaza 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

MKs slammed security arrangements in a number of the cities and towns that are vulnerable to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, complaining that the Defense Ministry’s assessments were not aligned with the safety needs of local residents.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee headed to Israel’s Gaza perimeter Sunday, where members of the powerful Knesset panel met with the heads of local communities and received assessments from senior Southern Command officers.

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“Most of the city of Ashkelon is not reinforced against rocket fire,” complained Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin. “We asked the Defense Ministry to reinforce 10 schools and 22 preschools that were built in the 1950s and have no secure areas whatsoever.

The ministry began to act, but then the defense minister told them to stop the process.

With no other option, we asked for help from a Christian organization, which donated secure structures that are stamped with crosses.”

Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said “there is a significant gap between the professional working assumptions by Home Front Command regarding protection for communities, versus the solutions that are given by the security system. This is an inconceivable gap that we must weigh in on.

In order to bridge the gaps we will turn to the prime minister, the defense minister and the minister for home front affairs, and we will have a specific hearing in the relevant subcommittee.”

Committee member Avi Dichter (Kadima), a resident of Ashkelon, called the Defense Ministry’s decision not to provide portable secure facilities to area cities “scandalous,” and the ministry’s explanations “absurd.”

“It cannot be that the Home Front Command and the Defense Ministry define educational institutions that are in real danger as ‘security level zero,’” Dichter complained. “The Iron Dome system is expected to be operational within a number of weeks, but we must warn that the number of batteries and their deployment, as proposed by the defense establishment, are unacceptable.”

Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also complained about what she described as the “dependence on Iron Dome,” which she called a “bankruptcy of Israel’s security understandings in the Gaza sector.” Instead, Hotovely said, “the security doctrine must be based upon the preventive element.”

Aryeh Eldad (National Union) added that the committee would also seek answers regarding last week’s decision by Home Front Affairs Minister Matan Vilna’i to fire a key official, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Ze’ev Tzuk- Ram, in a move that raised eyebrows as well as allegations that Vilna’i was settling personal scores.

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