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Israel to Protect More of Southern Israel's Communities

Homefront Defense Minister Matan Vilnai announces new plan to fully protect all communities located up to 15 kilometers from Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/8/2011, 7:42 AM

Minister Matan Vilnai
Minister Matan Vilnai
Flash 90

Homefront Defense Minister Matan Vilnai announced on Monday that his office has developed a new program to fully protect all communities in southern Israel that are located up to 15 kilometers from Gaza.

Vilnai made the announcement at the conclusion of a special meeting held in the office of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

To date, the government has only protected communities located within seven kilometers from Gaza. The new program will include among some towns that have suffered in recent years from the constant rocket attacks launched by Gaza terrorists. These include, among others, Eshkol, Ofakim and Netivot.

Monday’s discussion took place at Rivlin’s initiative, after he recently received many requests from the heads of Israel’s southern communities to include them in the expansion of the protection program.

Vilnai’s announcement comes one week after another round of rocket and missile attacks from Gaza at southern Israel. In one Grad missile attack, the Color Red sirens were heard for the first time as far north as Rehovot and Nes Tziona – a first for both cities.

Vilnai said at the meeting that in the coming days he plans to visit southern Israel’s communities to hear their leaders’ demands, adding that he will work to comply with these demands.

The Chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee to Examine the Homefront’s Preparedness for Emergency, MK Ze'ev Bielski (Kadima), said at the meeting that his committee will closely monitor the implementation of the new plan.