Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, fresh off a visit to Kassam rocket-besieged Sderot this past Thursday, says he found in the city - as well as the agricultural communities in the vicinity - "impressive determination, staying power, and less complaining."
Olmert reported to the Cabinet, during its Sunday morning session, on his visit to Sderot. Sderot and environs were bombarded with close to 100 rockets and mortar shells from Wednesday through Friday, at the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza.
"Our activity [against the terrorists in Gaza]," Olmert told the Cabinet, "includes military activity by the IDF and the General Security Service [Shabak] aimed at getting to the terrorists and [wounding or killing] them, preventing the launching of Kassam rockets, and identifying those who are behind the rockets in an attempt to hit them. Our military activity last week showed clearly our unwillingness to compromise in any way with terrorist elements; we will rather strike at them with full force." He praised the accomplishments of the IDF and GSS in these areas.
"On the other hand," Olmert continued, "we must be sensitive to the ramifications of our activity on the residents of Sderot and the Jewish towns bordering Gaza - on their daily lives and on the daily fears of getting hit by a rocket with which they must deal. This is not measured simply by the number of wounded, but rather by the cumulative effect and the difficult atmosphere under which they live."
Low unemployment and high educational achievements in Sderot...
The Prime Minister noted two outstanding achievements of the authorities in Sderot: "Unemployment stands at only 3.9%, the lowest in the country... In addition, educational achievements are among the highest in the country, with 70% of high school students passing their matriculation exams."
"I must say that I found a different atmosphere this time in both Sderot and the communities around Gaza," Olmert said. "They are of course worried and concerned, but I found impressive determination, staying power, and less complaining, as well as admiration for our military activity... The reinforcement of the schools in the entire area is being completed [with the result] that the parents definitely feel more confident sending their children to school. There is a feeling that many of the difficulties that were not solved for many months have now received solutions, both militarily and in terms of welfare, medicine, and the like."
"This government will continue to support the citizens of Sderot," Olmert promised.