TAKAM head: Gov't should talk to Hamas

Secretaries of northern Negev kibbutzim, local councils to hold emergency meeting Monday.

Kassam bloody gd 298.88 (photo credit: Maya Lefkowitz )
Kassam bloody gd 298.88
(photo credit: Maya Lefkowitz )
A military approach to Hamas hasn't worked, and it's time to try diplomacy, Ze'ev Shor, secretary-general of the United Kibbutz Movement (TAKAM), told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. "Obviously, we haven't reached agreements so far," he said. "Conventional political wisdom holds that [one should] talk to enemies, and maybe, if we talk to them, we'll reach an agreement we wouldn't otherwise." The heads of the Kibbutz Movement announced Sunday that an emergency gathering would be held Monday at a kibbutz on the Gaza periphery. The decision to gather the secretaries of kibbutzim in the northern Negev, as well as the heads of the Sha'ar Hanegev, Eshkol and Ashkelon local councils, comes in response to the deaths of Jimmy Kedoshim, 48, a member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza who was killed on May 9 by a mortar shell fired by Hamas terrorists, and Shuli Katz, 69, from Kibbutz Gvar'am, who was killed last Monday by a Kassam rocket during a visit to Kibbutz Yesha. Shor said the plan was to formulate a demand that the cabinet, especially its Labor Party members, take action. Kibbutz members constitute Labor's largest sector. "This a cynical helplessness," he said. "I don't understand what the government is waiting for. Why don't they finish [building protection from rockets] in 2008? Why wait until 2009? This bureaucratic helplessness is unbearable. The kibbutzim were and are the security barrier of this entire country. We don't tend to complain and we don't want to leave, we just want the proper conditions to stand against these threats and to be able to maintain a normal daily routine." While the Gaza-area moshavim and kibbutzim have remained strong through seven years of rocket attacks, recent weeks have seen an increasing number of residents leaving their homes. "The level of threat is climbing up all the time here," Kibbutz Nir Am secretary Ofer Lieberman said. "Luckily, no one [has] died in Kibbutz Nir Am as a result of the Kassam rockets, but we've had our share of rockets and the kibbutz doesn't have enough protection. [The government] says the [fortification] work will start within a month, but we won't believe it until we see it." "I think this government is a disgrace and I blame them for our situation," he said. "They simply laugh at us. They don't care what happens to us, but they continue to say that they're proud of us for carrying the burden. This is an absurd reality. It's ridiculous that our children, who live in the country, can't go play outside because they're afraid of Kassam rockets." Lieberman said four families recently left the kibbutz for good, and others had left for varying periods. "Personally, I'm not sure if we can stand this much longer," he said. "Leaving seems more reasonable than ever." Everything possible must be done to reduce the risk to residents, Kibbutz Kerem Shalom secretary Ilan Regev said. "We, the members of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, feel safe because of our proximity to the [Gaza] security fence, which provides us with full protection," he said. "But most of the kibbutzim don't yet have the means to maintain normalcy in the face of the constant fire directed toward us."