Ashdod, Kiryat Gat prepare for rockets

IDF leaflets instruct residents on behavior during emergency; gov't allocates reinforcement plan fund.

ashdod port 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy )
ashdod port 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy )
The IDF Home Front Command has begun distributing leaflets to communities that may soon find themselves within the Gaza Strip's rocket range, to prepare residents for the possibility of attack, Army Radio reported Sunday night. "Due to the possibility that rockets will reach your place of residence, it is important that you and your family be prepared to face difficulties you are not familiar with in your everyday lives," residents of Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi are told in the new fliers. "Experience has shown that people who learned how to cope with emergency situations and prepared themselves, performed better at the moment of truth," the leaflets state. The leaflets include instructions on how to behave when sirens sound, and how to prepare an emergency plan for the family. Meanwhile, the Home Front Command recently held a workshop for educational directors in Kiryat Malachi and Ofakim, The Jerusalem Post has learned, instructing them what to do in the event of a rocket attack during school hours. "We do not have concrete intelligence that they have rockets that can reach the cities, but we are preparing for the possibility," a Home Front Command source said. With Kassam rockets continuing to strike the western Negev, and as political rivals Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak clashed over policy toward Gaza, the cabinet gave the green light Sunday to build reinforced security rooms in all communities within 4.5 km. of the Strip. The reinforced rooms for 8,500 housing units in 15 Gaza-area communities will be built in three stages at a cost of some NIS 930,000. According to the cabinet resolution, the project is to be completed by 2011. The attacks continued on Sunday, as eight rockets and mortar shells slammed into the western Negev. Since Friday, close to 20 rockets have been fired into Israel. One of them landed at the entrance to Sderot. In response, IAF aircraft struck a rocket crew heading out to a mission in northern Gaza. No casualties were reported but the IDF said that the squad was hit. The Defense Ministry announced on Sunday night that cargo crossings into Gaza would remain closed on Monday because of the rocket fire. The continued attacks in the South have led to heightened tensions between Livni, who is calling for tough military action against the Gaza Strip, and Barak, who intimated that Livni's position was "politically motivated," and that the IDF must act with coolness and reason. Just before Sunday's cabinet meeting, Livni said Barak knew that she has been opposed to the "security calm" in the South since he brought it before the cabinet in the summer. "There is no calm, they are shooting at Israeli citizens," she said. "Those who call it calm are not aware of what is going on here. Hamas is in control of Gaza, they are shooting at Israel, Hamas is responsible. I am not interested in the address on every missile. We need to act: militarily, diplomatically and financially." Livni's comments were echoed by her party colleague Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who told Israel Radio that Israel must change its policy regarding Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Mofaz stressed that it was up to Israel to send a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that they were not immune to blows to their leadership, infrastructure and funding. Another Kadima minister, Vice Premier Haim Ramon, also called for an immediate end to the cease-fire, and a strike on Hamas's infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. "A strategic decision is needed, and regretfully it has not yet been made," he told Army Radio. "Only the defense minister thinks there is a cease-fire," he said. "There's calm in Gaza; there's no calm around Gaza." Barak countered the criticism by saying reality demanded "good judgment, responsibility and seriousness." Some people were making "hasty comments" because Israel was in the midst of a "political season," he said. Barak said he was ultimately responsible, and that the decision to embark on a military action against Gaza must be taken "at the right time" and in the "correct manner." IDF sources said there were "many ways" to gradually escalate operations against Hamas before launching a major operation in the Strip. One option being considered in the IDF is to strike from the air at Hamas military targets, such as weapons warehouses, rocket manufacturing plants and military outposts. "There is a lot that can be done before invading Gaza," a top IDF officer said. "At the moment we are not even using 10 percent of our capabilities."