Rockets can't keep Peres away from Torah dedication in Sderot

Hamas has to give the Palestinians a valid reason for dividing them and turning their aspirations for nationhood into something impossible, President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday after visiting victims of Monday's terrorist attack in Dimona at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Peres spent all day in the South in briefings with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). As he watched IAF bombardments of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, he said it was important to find better ways to guarantee the safety of Eilat's residents, whose position he called "vulnerable." Despite the pain resulting from terrorist attacks, said Peres, the security establishment and the government deserved high praise for radically reducing terrorism in recent years. Peres recalled that during his term as prime minister, there had been near-daily terror attacks all over Israel. The president also extolled the outstanding work of security personnel in Dimona on Monday. "What could have been a far greater tragedy was averted," he said in praise of police Ch.-Sup. Kobi Mor, who shot a second would-be bomber before the man could detonate his explosive belt. Peres also spoke out against those seeking to diminish the status of the army. "We have a good army, which is much better and stronger today than it was a year and a half ago," he said. "We have always relied on the army - now we have to make sure the army can rely on us." Although the Shin Bet tried to dissuade him from leaving the hospital for Sderot, where he was expected to dedicate a Torah scroll, Peres said he would not be deterred by security threats from Gaza. Over the course of the day, 10 rockets were fired at the city from Gaza, one of which hit a building next door to the location of the Torah dedication. Peres was still at Soroka at the time. Later, during the ceremony, the city's Color Red early warning alert sounded, but no one was evacuated. "The citizens of Sderot should be very proud, and I am very proud of them," said Peres, predicting that one day Sderot would be a flourishing city, free from attacks. "I am a citizen, like any citizen of Israel, and I refused to change my plans and return to Jerusalem without keeping my promise to come to Sderot," Peres said.