After years of Kassam attacks on Sderot and the Gaza-belt communities, the government has decided to invest some NIS 1 billion in a new plan to protect the area's residents and institutions, Army Radio reported on Wednesday morning. The plan, which follows a government decision last week to grant the area "confrontation line" status, focuses mainly on protecting citizens' private homes.
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Among the alternatives being considered is the addition of a secure room, nine meters square, to each housing unit, according to Housing Ministry director Aryeh Bar.
However, such a solution may not be effective, since there are over 10,000 housing units in the area and not all of these are suitable for additions.
Other possible solutions include installing fortified roofs and walls that face west - the source of the Kassam threat - or turning one room in each house into a secure room. For multi-story homes, the option of converting upper stories into fortified buffers is also being explored.
According to the report, the ministry has also taken into account the fact that many residents are usually not inside their homes when the rockets fall.
"We plan to find a solution for the streets themselves, as well as the large public areas," Bar said.
However, Alon Shuster, head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, told Army Radio that the government's plan was six years too late, and insisted that the budget for the project be determined immediately.
"Until now, there was no plan at all," he said. "I estimate that the project will stretch out for two years. In addition to the city of Sderot, there are 46-47 towns in the western Negev. We know this plan doesn't meet our needs 100 percent. This is a project that was done in the North on a much broader scale - billions of shekels. We want [that], too."
On Tuesday, meanwhile, a security expo in Tel Aviv included a presentation of "Kassam-proof" windows. Although the glass would not withstand a direct hit, the presenters said, it could survive the blast impact of a strike four meters away, and would stop shrapnel.
Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.