Criticism justified, say angry Negev residents

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss's harsh criticism of the government for failing to provide communities surrounding the Gaza Strip with the necessary security measures after disengagement came as no surprise to residents on Sunday. Ze'ev Shor and Gavri Bargil, secretaries of the Kibbutz Movement, said community leaders had warned the government a year ago that the situation was not being treated seriously and construction was slow. Meetings with Defense Ministry officials and cabinet ministers proved fruitless, they said. Speaking on behalf of the 15 kibbutzim that surround the Gaza Strip, the two declared that they hoped that as a result of the comptroller's report, conclusions would be drawn soon and the necessary measures completed. "The kibbutz movement supported disengagement, but warned that immediate steps needed to be taken to be prepare for the day after," Shor said. Gil Nir, head of security at Moshav Netiv Ha'asara said that, unlike other areas, most of the work at his moshav had been completed. The moshav was one of the hardest hit after disengagement, as residents were suddenly confronted with the Gaza border located a stone's throw from their houses, and the entire community open to sniper fire and Kassam rocket and mortar attacks. "Luckily, the high cement barrier has been completed and security rooms brought from Gush Katif have been erected. An electronic security fence is now under construction. While I have not read the comptroller's report, I can understand the anger of residents who are still waiting - their anger is justified," he told The Jerusalem Post. Even now, said Nir, the government's promises to provide the necessary security have so far failed to materialize. In August, former Defense Ministry director-general Amos Yaron briefed military reporters on the preparations under way for the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip after disengagement. He said communities located close to the Gaza security fence would receive an estimated NIS 85 million in compensation for the farmland the ministry needed to purchase to implement the necessary security measures and prepare for troop redeployment.