Sderot city workers still kept on job

Ten rockets fired into area on Thursday; Moyal announces planned resignation.

sderot mayor moyal298 88 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
sderot mayor moyal298 88
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
The Sderot Municipality took an emergency measure on Thursday to ensure that city services would continue to run as usual. But despite the many promises heard in the 10 days since the current upswing in rocket attacks began, it was hard to find any signs that the town was better protected Thursday than at the onset of the attacks. A total of 10 Kassam rockets landed in the Sderot area Thursday, continuing a three-day decline in the number of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev. Nevertheless, the Sderot Municipality announced Thursday morning that the night before, it had requested that the Home Front Command and the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry issue injunctions that would keep all senior municipal employees, including department managers and secretaries, from leaving their posts - without exception. Municipal officials said that the move was made "in order to continue to offer services as usual in spite of the security situation" and added that any worker "who [was] forced by family situations to leave the city or miss work [would] have that day deducted from his leave." Early Thursday afternoon, the ministry and the IDF approved the municipality's request and issued approximately 30 injunctions. "The municipality is currently having trouble solving residents' problems because of those 30 workers' absence, and therefore we're calling on them to report to their work," said Sderot spokesman Yossi Cohen. Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said Thursday that during Shavuot, approximately 90 percent of the town's young people had left, leaving the city - in his words - "a ghost town." Moyal told a group of over two dozen foreign military attaches - who included representatives from five continents and ranged in rank from major to general - that he believed that increasing the fortification of buildings was a near-futile step. "All of the people here who have been killed by the rockets were killed in the streets... And you can't do anything about that," he explained. Moyal also announced Thursday that he was planning to resign after the current situation calmed down. Moyal has increasingly voiced frustration with the government's treatment of the beleaguered western Negev city, which he has led since 1996. The chain-smoking mayor told The Jerusalem Post that he has been working around the clock, and lost five kilos this last week. Driving around the western Negev town Thursday, the Kassam damage to buildings and streets was evident, but it was hard to spot any of the promised building projects - repairs to bomb shelters and the construction of safe rooms. "It's infuriating that the government didn't learn the lessons from what happened in the North," said Shlomo Buhbout, head of the Ma'alot Regional Council, an area hard-hit by Katyusha fire last summer. Buhbout and a group of fellow northern front-line community leaders visited Sderot on Thursday. "We felt that we should come and identify with Sderot's suffering. I couldn't stay with my friends up North and pretend nothing was happening," he said. Buhbout emphasized that he thought that the problem in Sderot - like the problems faced by Galilee communities - was twofold. "There is a saying here that it is one state from Hadera to Gedera. And anything to the north of Hadera, to the south of Gedera, is the periphery - a status reflected in the government's attitudes." "During times of war, politicians come and make promises. But after the wars, we see no improvement, and no better infrastructure," Buhbout explained. Late Thursday night, the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee announced that it would extend the "special emergency" situation in Sderot for an additional 10 days.