Sderot Sues for Security

A District Court petition filed by 50 Sderot residents on Monday challenged the government’s right to levy taxes on a population it has not effectively defended against rocket attacks.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 07:25

The petition specifically targeted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s policy of restraint, which has prevented the Israel Defense Forces from responding with military force to the constant rocket attacks on the besieged western Negev city.

The petition, filed by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and her husband Avi Leitner, the directors of the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin), asked the court to declare Sderot residents exempt from having to pay taxes to the State. It explains this demand “in light of the government’s refusal to provide adequate military protection to their community.”

Press "Play" below to listen to the IsraelNationalRadio interview with Atty. Leitner.

The court brief filed on behalf of the city’s residents also requested a tax refund retroactive to June 2004, the month in which the first civilian was killed by a Kassam rocket attack on Sderot.

“From this date, the State of Israel was on notice that the Kassam rockets began to seriously endanger the lives of the Sderot residents, and nevertheless refused to provide the appropriate military response to the terrorists,” the brief stated.

Referring to the largely unwritten social contract that exists between a nation and its government, Darshan-Leitner spelled out the State’s obligation to protect its citizens in return for the taxes they pay.

“The plaintiffs claim that the Government’s policy of restraint against the ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks has endangered their families’ lives and encouraged the terrorist organizations to escalate their attacks. They are demanding that until Sderot is given the same level of military protection provided by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to all other cities in the Jewish State, that they not be obligated to pay taxes to the Israeli government,” said the statement issued by the Israel Law Center.

According to Attorney Darshan-Leitner, "The Government's immoral decision to neglect the safety and rights of the residents of Sderot and surrounding communities to further its diplomatic relations with the United States and Europe must be opposed. The State's first obligation must be to safeguard its citizens and to utilize all its military might to destroy the terrorists firing rockets from Gaza."

Darshan-Leitner said bluntly, “If the IDF won’t fight, Sderot residents aren’t going to pay.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council is making other plans. Alon Shuster said Monday that military officials are expecting a massive escalation in Kassam rocket attacks on the Negev this summer.

Communities in the area have begun to make plans to leave, based on the reports that have reached the leadership. Shuster said the Council is making preparations for a mass evacuation of the region’s residents.

“We have no choice but to protect our lives without waiting for government instructions,” he said.

The government is making plans of its own, according to the Health Ministry. Salaries for three workers will be paid, enabling the Hosen Trauma Center in Sderot to keep its doors open, at least temporarily.

The ministry said the workers will be paid until a new center is opened as part of a government aid package for the besieged city.

The new center is expected to open this month and will be used as a model for similar centers in other communities near the Gaza border.

The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, which is responsible for the center, welcomed the move, but said it has yet to receive the necessary funds from the ministry.