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      Samaria Offers Negev Residents a Break from Rockets

      Israelis living in the Shomorn have reached out to southern Israel with an offer of respite from rockets.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 6/23/2012, 10:07 PM

      Samaria
      Samaria
      Flash 90

      Israelis living in Samaria (Shomron) have reached out to those in the south of the country, who have suffered through several dozen rocket attacks from Gaza in the past week.

      Samaria leaders are offering free tours in the region, far out of range of Gaza terrorists' attacks.

      Residents of Sderot and Ashkelon took part in tours last week. The offer will continue next week as well, and organizers are expecting many to take part.

      “Residents of Samaria are happy to host those living in the south,” said Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika. “The settlers in Judea and Samaria send a warm embrace to our brothers in the south. We will be happy to help with whatever they need.”

      The project was initiated by the Shomron – Naim L’Hakir (Nice to Meet You) organization. Coordinator Yossi Dagan explained that the program takes care to keep its tours apolitical.

      “We instruct all of our guides not to be dragged into political debate during tours of Samaria, but just to show the positive reality that exists on the ground,” he said.

      However, he noted, many of those who tour the region come away with their opinions changed regardless. “When tourists see the quiet in Samaria, the vast unpopulated expanses - and especially when see how they can look down on central Israel from the towns here, making it crucial not to let them fall into terrorist hands, they tell us that now they understand that the shelling [in the South] is definitely the result of the expulsion from Gush Katif,” he said.

      Those who tour Samaria “see with their own eyes that it is only the settlement in Samaria, and the IDF forces that are free to operate due to the settlement, that prevent missile attacks on Tel Aviv and the coastal area as well,” he added.