gaza road periphery.
(photo credit: )
Operation "Cast Lead" has entered its fourth day. This morning, Tuesday, 30th December, 2008, Minister of Defense declared a "special situation" for all communities within a thirty-kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip. This means that within this range, representatives of Home Front Command have special authority to hold up work, detain workers, and cancel public gatherings. Many educational institutions within this range are also closed today. The air strikes against Gaza continued last night as the IDF completed preparations for a potential infantry incursion. Three people in Ashkelon, Ashdod and a military base, were killed yesterday by mortar shells, qassam missiles or rockets.
As is always the case in times of emergency, KKL-JNF continues its activities on behalf of the state of Israel and its citizens. KKL-JNF's Southern Region is on full alert to fight fires and protect all open spaces, forests and sites within range of qassam missiles, in coordination with the Home Front Command and the army. Teams of staff are at work only at sites beyond rocket range, approved by the Home Front Command.
The senior staff of KKL-JNF's Resources & Development Division met in Jerusalem to discuss the emergency situation in the south and its effect on different projects in the region built through friends of KKL-JNF worldwide. Avi Dickstein, division executive director, noted that the current security situation has highlighted the importance and relevance of many projects KKL-JNF has created for the welfare of residents of the south, particularly security roads, water reservoirs, parks and forests. Dickstein also noted that the Nes Harim Forest & Field Center is preparing to host families from the south for a few days of peace and quiet beyond rocket range, as it has done repeatedly in the past with help of JNF America. KKL-JNF employees have also responded positively to the call of the KKL-JNF workers union to host families from Sderot and communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, at their homes.
Of all the various projects that KKL-JNF worldwide has undertaking in the south; the security roads in agricultural areas and around communities have the greatest effect on the daily life of the residents and soldiers in the area. The security roads provide access for local farmers to agricultural regions so they can take care of the immediate needs of the crops - even under fire. They can also be used in times of emergency by all residents within range of the missiles.
Moshe Paul, head of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council, wrote a letter to KKL-JNF Australia who continuously develops this particular region. His letter expresses the special bond between the residents of the south and friends of KKL-JNF worldwide.
"I am sure that you have been following recent developments here in the south of Israel, and would like to update you on the situation here in Bnei Shimon. Following the start of Israel's air assault on Saturday in the Gaza Strip, the whole region has been in a state of alert, as Hamas militants attempt to reach targets further away than ever before. In Bnei Shimon Regional Council we have mobilized our emergency teams in the communities, and the Council emergency team is well organized and ready for any eventuality. Some of our communities are well within range of hostile fire and others are experiencing this situation for the first time. All need reassurance and immediate answers to a wide variety of needs: from help with reassuring and looking after the aged, to alternative kindergarten arrangements. As you know, we have a strong and experienced team of staff to rely on, with many willing and dedicated volunteers in the community. I wish you all a good year to come (2009) and hope that soon we will have more peaceful times."
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