Residents and farmers in Jewish villages near Gaza launched a protest tonight (Wednesday) against a decision from the Ministry of Defense to retract IDF security from 13 isolated villages, Yediot Ahronot reports. The protesters, who came with their children to the wall separating the Gaza Strip and Israel, called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to retract the decision and held signs with messages against the move.
The IDF announced last week that it will stop providing individual soldier units for 13 communities along the Gaza and Sinai borders, and also in nine northern communities. Ya'alon claims that the decision is not budget-related, but rather the result of careful tactical analysis. Local leaders were saddened by the decision, calling the move "cold hearted," and "a misunderstanding of reality."
Yediot Aharonot offered statements from protesters, whose voice may have been drowned by the national outcry against Tuesday night's controversial prisoner release.
"The presence of the soldiers for 10 years has greatly enhanced our sense of security; now we feel abandoned," said Yifat Ben-Shoshan, a teen attending tonight's protest. "This is an outrageous decision that affects the stability of the residents."
Moran, of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, stated that "IDF bases in the region are not enough" to ensure the area's protection from Palestinian Arab attacks. "We have grown accustomed to soldiers being stationed outside our village at all times, and all of a sudden they are being snatched away from us," she said.