"The people of Israel must not abscond from their cities at any cost," said Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday at his home in the Kassam-beleaguered development town. Moyal explained, "If we run away from Sderot, we'll run away from Tzahala, and we'll run away from Savyon, and we'll run away from Tel Aviv." "I suffer here so that the Tel Avivians can sit at cafes in peace and quiet, just as the people of Kiryat Shmona suffered, so that people could sit at cafes in Jerusalem, and just as Jerusalemites suffered so that people in Sderot could sit at cafes. This is the People of Israel. This is our part in history."
Kassams hit 2 Sderot homes; none hurt
Moyal paused when his police-appointed bodyguard called out abruptly that a "Color Red" alert had sounded, and ushered him into the laundry room to wait for the missile to strike - which it did two minutes later, slamming through a window of a house in the town's center. Within seconds, Moyal was on the phone to his sister - the mother of five young children, who lives across the street from the building that was hit - to make sure she was all right.
Reassured by the news that no one was physically hurt in the attack, Moyal resumed speaking against what he sees not only as a lack of current leadership, but as a whole mistaken shift in the concept of Israel's national task in general, and of its military aims in particular. He also clarified his unpopular position on reinforcing the buildings in Sderot and surrounding areas.
"Reinforcement is almost a Kafkaesque issue, because you can't reinforce the street, so you reinforce the houses in which nobody is killed anyway. This is part of the general concept of the government to treat the symptom and not the illness. The infection is over there [in Gaza], and they're busy trying to lower the fever over here. I told the government that we've got to cause the people in Gaza to want to reinforce their houses. It's true that reinforcement calms the residents of Sderot down somewhat, but I'm telling you it won't protect them."
Though he said he understands the residents' fears and need to feel something is being done to alleviate their plight - and stressed that "they deserve anything they want" - "the reinforcement against the missiles that have been launched up until now won't be effective against the new generation of Kassams. Certainly not against Katyushas. So, then they'll have to add another layer of reinforcement, and they'll discover something important: that the foundations of the structures won't hold up. So they'll have to either strengthen the foundations or rebuild the structures."
Furthermore, he insisted, "When you say, 'I'm going to reinforce Sderot,' the subtext of what you are saying is: 'I accept terrorism as part of my life.' And how did we get to reinforcement? By capitulating to terrorism."
In fact, Moyal said, "The more the government reinforces homes, the longer it will take them to take real action in Gaza."
(The full text of this interview will appear next week.)