Kassam-hit kibbutzim slam government [p. 2]

United Kibbutz Movement (UKM) officials Sunday blamed the government for morale among kibbutzniks in the western Negev falling to an all-time low due to the damage done in recent Kassam attacks. "For the first time, we are hearing of kibbutz members who are seriously considering leaving their homes," said UKM spokesman Aviv Leshem. "The government promised to do more in terms of education, security and maintenance for the kibbutzim and we have not seen it," Leshem said. On Sunday the movement established an emergency committee to deal exclusively with the needs of those kibbutziks living in the western Negev. Its agenda includes assuring the construction of 10-12 square meter safety rooms in the residents' apartments, which have thick metal walls. The movement is also seeking to improve communication with the kibbutz leaders and to connect them with various MKs. In addition, the committee is looking to plan special getaways to other kibbutzim to alleviate stress. Movement secretary-general Ze'ev Shor called the government's behavior towards the kibbutzim that have been targeted in the attacks "scandalous." The complaints follow a visit by kibbutz officials on Thursday to the region, which includes roughly 15 kibbutzim. Shor criticized the government's response but directed much of his comments toward the Labor Party, which has the UKM's support. Orit Noked, the movement's representative on the Labor Party, told The Jerusalem Post, "It is time for the government to find the solution to this problem from within the budget. We talk about solutions but it is time to implement them." Members of the kibbutzim affected have complained about the government's failure to pay compensation for damage caused by the Kassam attacks to homes and agriculture and for the cost of missed work time.