Gaza, Yamit evacuee to petition court over Kassams

Avi Farhan demands that the government provide effective protection for Sderot residents.

farhan 88 (photo credit: )
farhan 88
(photo credit: )
Avi Farhan, a leading figure of the resistance movements to Israel's withdrawals from Yamit in 1982 and the Gaza Strip in 2005, did not plan to also become part of the struggle to protect Sderot and the other Jewish communities alongside the Gaza border. In fact, his dream was and remains to find a home near the Mediterranean Sea. But, as fate would have it, he has not yet been able - for bureaucratic reasons - to buy the house he wants near the coastal town of Givat Olga. In the meantime, after being forced out of his home in Elei Sinai two years ago, he decided to rent a home in Sderot with his wife, Lora, and son, Ofer. Two of this three daughters live in the nearby kibbutzim of Mefalsim and Gvar'am, which are also within Kassam range. "Somehow, the heavens sent me to Sderot," Farhan told The Jerusalem Post during an interview in the kitchen of the rented home he's lived in for the past 21 months. "I regard it as a mission to be here at this time." On Sunday, Farhan's lawyer, Omri Erez, is due to file a petition with the High Court of Justice demanding that the government provide effective protection for the residents of the town of 23,000, located only a few kilometers from the northern edge of the Gaza Strip. In a letter written on Wednesday, after dozens of Kassams had already fallen on Sderot and the surrounding communities, Erez wrote to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "the official government policy is that of 'restraint,' that is, giving the Kassam launchers a free hand to fire at Israeli population centers." With all due respect, Erez continued, there was no place for this "unreasonable and immoral policy" that exposed civilians to existential dangers while the government "disassociated itself from all responsibility for [their] safety and security." Erez charged that in adopting a policy of restraint, the government was guilty of discrimination. He argued that what would be an "obvious" response were central or northern Israel bombarded (as in the Second Lebanon War) was not put into practice with regard to the residents of Sderot and the Gaza periphery. According to Farhan, the current problem was the country's "impotent" government. "The ministers consult all the time but never decide anything," he said. Farhan also said the Israeli leadership, and Western leadership in general, does not understand the "Arab mentality." "They try to deal with Arab terrorism with Western notions," said Farhan, who adds that he speaks Arabic and understands Arabs. "If they gave me three months... to make and implement decisions, I would tell the residents of the Gaza Strip, 'the game is over. I won't let one more Kassam fall on Israel,'" said Farhan. He believes the way to accomplish this is by punishing and exiling the families of suicide bombers. "I say, we should arrest all the members of the bomber's immediate family, load them onto a helicopter and ship them off to south Lebanon. Then I'd demolish the house and warn that the army will shoot anyone who tries to rebuild it." This policy, he said, would solve 90 percent of the problem. He also suggested that the army open fire at Kassam launching grounds regardless of casualties. The residents of the areas from which terrorists launch their Kassam rockets could prevent them from doing so if they wanted, he argued. If the locals are afraid to challenge the terrorists, Farhan said, they should run away. Farhan said he was aware of the difficulties that such a policy would encounter in the Supreme Court and international public opinion, and added that the policy could not be implemented immediately, as laws would have to be changed to permit certain actions. Furthermore, he said, Israel should explain to the foreign press what it was doing and why. "We have to explain, we have to prepare and then we have to put this policy into operation," he said. "No state would allow attacks on its cities or strategic facilities."