Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal was in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening to ask President Moshe Katsav to intercede with the government to ensure that Sderot would not become "the first nail in the coffin of the Zionist enterprise."
Sderot residents have stoically withstood rocket attacks for the past five and a half years, Moyal told reporters in Katsav's presence, "but now for the first time, dozens of people are calling daily to ask for help to get out, saying that they don't want to live in Sderot any more."
Moyal warned that if the government does not take action, Sderot will become a ghost town, after which Kassam rockets will be targeted at Ashkelon and Ashdod, whose residents will also want to move out of the danger zone. "And that will be the end of the Zionist enterprise," he asserted.
Letters had been sent to every member of the government, outlining the situation and asking for help, said Moyal, but not a single minister had called in response.
When asked if this also applied to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who lives in Sderot and is a former mayor of the city, Moyal declined to comment. Peretz had come not to talk about the army or about politics, Moyal said, but to bring the cry of the people of Sderot to Jerusalem.
"The government must find a solution," he said, "and I will fight for every resident to stay. This is why I'm here."
Moyal had chosen to come to Katsav not as a last resort, he said, but because the channels of communication between Beit Hanassi and Sderot were always open, and the president or his military aide call every time a Kassam rocket lands in Sderot. "We know that Sderot is close to his heart," affirmed Moyal.
The State of Israel is obligated to guarantee minimum security for the people of Sderot from Palestinian terrorism, said Katsav. He pledged that he would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the earliest opportunity.