Sderot mayor predicts 'the worst is yet to come'

Moyal: "There is a war waiting for us, a very brutal war."

sderot mayor moyal298 88 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
sderot mayor moyal298 88
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal is too busy these days dodging rockets to pay attention to the cease-fire. "The worst is yet to come," he told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday after returning from a secure room in city hall where he had gone after the warning siren rang out. Two Palestinian-launched rockets fell on the outskirts of his southern border city. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday evening that "we are a little disappointed by the continuation of Kassam rocket fire at the South by the Palestinians." Speaking at a meeting with European Union envoys at the Finnish Embassy, Olmert added, "I very much hope that the Palestinians will honor their obligations and stop the shooting." But Moyal was not nearly as optimistic. "There is a war waiting for us, a very brutal war," Moyal said. While Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke about the possibilities for peace between their two people on Tuesday, Moyal was concerned that the Kassams would soon be pass in favor of more upgraded weapons like the Katyusha, which terrorized the North over the summer. "According to information coming from army intelligence they [the Palestinians in Gaza] have more sophisticated missiles," said Moyal. "At this moment we know they have Katyushas," he added. He puts little faith in the cease-fire, which was declared this week between the Palestinians in Gaza and Israel. "Twenty-four hours of quiet is not a cease fire," he said and added that the city had not yet even seen that this week. Moyal said he would start to believe that quiet had descended only once the rockets had stopped for three or four months. Until then, he had only two words of advice for the government: eliminate terror. Taking a hard line against the Palestinians promises to offer more security than banking on solving the problem by protecting the buildings in Sderot; many of which are not even safe from Katyushas, Moyal said. "What will we do when the Katyushas start to fall in Sderot?" he asked. All that money could be better spent on education, social programs and infrastructure, Moyal added. "By protecting [buildings] you are accepting the idea that someone will shoot you," he pointed out. Protection treats the symptom but not the disease, "the disease is terrorism," he added. Moyal said that the story would be different if the Israeli government had reacted properly when the first Kassams fell. "I remember the Ariel Sharon government, it took me three years to convince him that these rockets are a national problem not a local problem, after three years he understood," he said. While at the very end of the day, peace is the only solution, such a step can only come after a fierce attack against terror, Moyal said. "You have to make them pay a painful price or they will never sit with you," Moyal said. As he waits for the government to bring the situation under control, he is advocating that the residents of the city stay put and try to live as normal a life as possible. Routine is the best antidote to terror, Moyal said, as he sat smoking in his office. "It is tough. I am afraid as a human being to be here," said Moyal. Just this Saturday, a rocket landed on his street and destroyed his neighbor's home. "We do not have another choice but to survive. We do not have a spare city. We do not consider running away," he said. What would have happened if the whole city had fled to Ashkelon, he asked rhetorically. The rockets, he said, can hit there too. "Should we run from Ashkelon as well? Imagine that we ran to Tel Aviv and an Iranian missile landed there?" he asked. "If Sderot falls, it's the end of Zionism," he said. Therefore, he did not favor the philanthropic gesture by billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak who mid month paid for 1,000 city residents to spend the weekend in Eilat hotels. Still that did not stop Moyal from greeting him warmly when he visited the city on Tuesday. When the warning siren rang out during his visit, Moyal helped guide him to a protected room one floor down from his office. After the visit, both men downplayed the tensions between them and portrayed the relationship instead as one with a difference of opinion. Gaydamak said his move to pay for residents to spend some time in Eilat was not political but rather was inspired by a desire to help. Following the Kassam attack, Gaydamak told reporters, "Now I understand what it means to here."