Poll: Vast majority of southern residents have no desire to flee

89.5% of Sderot, Ashkeon and Beersheba residents say they remain steadfast to their areas.

GRAD ASHKELON 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Despite thousands of rocket attacks, dozens of fatalities and a state of terror that only seems to be worsening, the vast majority of Israelis living in Gaza-periphery communities say they have no plan to leave their homes. In a poll released Wednesday, 89.5 percent of people living in southern cities such as Sderot, Ashkelon and Beersheba said they are remaining steadfast to their areas, according to Union of Local Authorities spokeswoman Anat Confortes. The ULA polled some 500 people between 18 and 65 for the report. There was no published margin of error, Confortes said. "People living around the Gaza Strip are not living in a normal situation," Ashkelon Deputy Mayor Levi Shafran told The Jerusalem Post. "There are bombs on almost a daily basis and that would cause people to think about leaving. But if the survey showed that they don't want to leave, that means people still believe that the government will take care of the solution, and will solve it, and in a short time, life will to return to normal." "We are not living in the South because we are forced to," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said. "We are here because we have an ideology and we believe the South is the future of Israel. Somehow, the dream of Ben-Gurion will be a reality." Of the 10.5% of respondents who said they would leave if they could, 8.7% said they would move to the center of the country, 1.3% would live in Jerusalem, and 0.5% would move to another city in the South. Nevertheless, there have been reports of 40 families who have been considering leaving Kibbutz Kfar Aza since kibbutz members Jimmy Kedoshim, 48, was killed by a Gazan mortar shell on May 9. Four days later, Shuli Katz, 69, from Kibbutz Gvaram was killed by a Kassam rocket while visiting Moshav Yesha in the Eshkol Regional Council. United Kibbutz Movement spokesman Aviv Leshem said the reports of 40 families moving away were not true, but that many near Gaza were afraid and some kibbutz members were talking of leaving. "Those residents that built the kibbutzim 50 and 60 years ago in the desert, when there was no water, trees or fields, they established the area," he said. "They were strong and they are still strong, but they suffer from everyday attacks from the Gaza Strip. The government should help them, because we don't know if they can continue." Leshem said remaining in the South, despite the situation, was the Zionist response to terrorism. "People are living there, they are working there, and they have children and families," he said. "It is home, so they are not willing to leave so easily."