Court: Sderot must wait for protection

Residents' petition demanding funding to fortify homes without waiting for gov't timetable rejected.

Sderot hole in roof 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Sderot hole in roof 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice ruled on Monday that a petition filed by Sderot residents had become redundant after the state granted most of the demands made by the petitioners. Thirty Sderot residents, headed by Attorney Yosef Pinhas Hacohen, petitioned the court on September 12, 2007, demanding that the state build security rooms for 800 houses with tiled roofs in Sderot. After several months of deliberation, the state decided to build 3,200 safety rooms, including 2,100 in Sderot, for communities located up to 4.5 kilometers from the Gaza border, in the first stage of a program to make the housing in the Gaza periphery safer. The 4.5-kilometer range was determined in accordance with the Iron Dome system, which is said to provide protection from rockets and which is scheduled to be in place by 2010. According to the plan, first priority will be given to houses with weaker roofs in Sderot, Nir Am, Gevim, Erez, Netiv Ha'asara, Nahal Oz, Kissufim, Miflasim, Karmiya and Kerem Shalom. The cost of the first stage of the project is said to be about 350 million shekels. In the second stage, homes without protective roofing in Sderot will be reinforced. After the court's decision, the only items left in dispute were the timetable for completing stage one of the construction and the petitioners' demand to let residents who are able to, build their only secure rooms and be compensated afterwards by the state. The court decided to reject these demands but urged the government to speed up their plans in light of the danger faced by Sderot residents. "In accordance with government policy, the option cannot be given for Sderot residents to install their own fortification with the help of government reimbursements ... the government protection plan is based on an extensive project, meant to be implemented by government officials and monitors ... we did not find a reason to intervene," read the court ruling.