Sderot Municipality threatens to strike

City officials say gov't disregarding obligation to defend its citizens.

kassam on ground 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
kassam on ground 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Sderot municipality announced on Tuesday its intentions to open a general city-wide service strike, effective as of this coming Sunday. The reason for the strike, according to municipality officials, is the government's shedding of its obligation to defend the city and the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. Kassams fell again in Sderot on Tuesday, even as members of the Knesset's State Comptroller Committee were fuming over the defense establishment's failure to provide adequate protection to communities in the Negev. If the strike goes into effect on Sunday, residents of the southern Kassam-plagued city will go without general and municipality-related services that the city offers them. "Residents of the city will begin a struggle until they are given proper assurances regarding the safety of their children and the entire civilian population," said a municipality spokesperson. The committee's findings stressed the lack of protection in Sderot, where construction of security structures to protect half of city's kindergartens is still pending. "Even when we use the current funds allotted to us - NIS 115 million - there will be dozens of unprotected kindergartens in various communities bordering Gaza, including Sderot," said Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Gershon. He added that it was up to the Finance Ministry to allot more money for the IDF to use towards the reinforcement of private structures. The MKs expressed outrage at the red tape that was preventing Israeli citizens in the Negev from receiving protection. "The situation where bureaucracy wins out over security interests of Israeli citizens cannot continue," said Ran Cohen (Meretz). "Every small delay that holds up work on the defensive structures endangers our citizens," said State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. Since the disengagement from Gaza, over 300 Kassam rockets have been fired at Israel. Some 40 percent of the rockets have fallen in areas under Palestinian control because of the "no-go" zone imposed by the army in northern Gaza. In recent weeks, Kassams have landed in and around Jewish communities such as Kibbutz Karmiya, where an infant was injured last Friday by a Kassam strike. The family was temporarily living in the caravan following evacuation from Gaza in August. Although the Disengagement Authority (SELA) had promised to construct security rooms for the caravans, only seven such rooms have been built to shelter 500 residents at Karmiya. "Since Friday, I've been in deep depression," said MK Gilad Erdan (Likud). "The State of Israel left a cardboard wall between a baby and a Kassam. I think this stinks to high heaven." Some committee members also demanded the resignation of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, saying "the State of Israel is abandoning the security of its citizens." Lindenstrauss is due to present two more reports to the Knesset. The first report will deal with the issue of absorbing the evacuees after the disengagement. The second will critique the operation of several government offices during the implementation of the disengagement.