'Cease-fire already ended a while ago'

Sderot security chief: Politicians have fooled people by speaking as if truce is still on.

Kassam Sderot 88,224 (photo credit: )
Kassam Sderot 88,224
(photo credit: )
For southern border residents who have been living for the last month under the renewed threat of rocket fire, the question of extending the cease-fire is a somewhat ridiculous debate. "What cease-fire?" asked Yehuda Ben-Mamman on Sunday, in charge of security for the southern border city of Sderot. "You think that a warning siren didn't ring out today or on Shabbat?" he asked. Politicians have fooled people by speaking about the end of a cease-fire as if it hasn't already ended, said Ben-Mamman. "What is the difference if there are three rockets that fall or 30, or even a siren that sends children racing for protection as they head to school, maybe even breaking a leg or an arm in the rush for safety?" he asked. But safety remains hard to find in a city where many of the homes lack shelters. In the last months, the government has been adding safety rooms on to some of the homes, said Ben-Mamman. While there are some 48 public shelters in the city, they fall short of offering full protection for the 20,000 people who live there. Only last week, after a protracted battle, the government agreed to increase its funding to protect the homes that lie within 4.5 kilometers of the border. In the area of the Eshkol Regional Council, work on those homes would not begin until the spring, said chairman Haim Yelin. But the government has taken other steps to protect the area in the last months, including providing protection for bus stops, playgrounds and schools. In January there was not a single mini-concrete shelter in the entire region. Now there were more than 100, Yelin said. Like Ben-Mamman, he too was of the opinion that the cease-fire ended last month. With an eye toward the possibility of a rocket attack, he was already on the phone at 6:30 a.m. to oversee security for the school children as they headed to class. More had been done to protect the South in the last half a year than was done in the last 20 years, he said. While the situation has improved, there was still more to do, he said. And while he did offer advice to the government as to how to solve the problem, he noted the obvious: That the surest way to protect the population was to stop the rockets from falling altogether. "I don't want to live my life under concrete," he added.