Gaza Belt Community Leaders Tell Residents Not to Return
Heads of the southern Regional Councils are protesting the new long-term ceasefire with Hamas, and urging their residents not to return to the homes they fled under intensive rocket fire.
The head of the Eshkol Regional Council, Haim Yellin, noted that a man was killed and two others seriously wounded in his constituency just one hour before the ceasefire went into effect, amid an intense rocket and mortar barrage that lasted until 15 minutes after the ceasefire was supposed to take effect at 7 p.m.
"Apparently in Jerusalem there's a ceasefire, and there's no doubt that also in Gaza they feel secure to go into the street because they know that the IDF will not attack," said Yellin.
However, that was not the case in the Eshkol region according to Yellin, who stated "no one is returning here - I don't care what Hamas or the government says - until I know that there is a true ceasefire."
The fears are well founded, as the government and IDF had encouraged Gaza Belt residents to return before the last ceasefire was breached last Tuesday. Among those returning was four-year-old Daniel Tregerman hy''d, who was subsequently murdered by mortar fire in his Kibbutz Nahal Oz home last Friday.
"I hope that Gaza Belt residents will be able to live in quiet," stated Yellin. "It's very easy to accept decisions by foreign countries like Hamas or from the bunkers, or from Jerusalem, where the government sits."
Speaking about the murder of the Eshkol Regional Council resident roughly an hour before the ceasefire, Yellin said "it's one of the most difficult incidents in the Gaza Belt and Eshkol."
"We are in a war of attrition. It's unbearable that the government dragged us into a two month war with ceasefires in the middle. A demilitarization of Gaza...needs to be (done) through an agreement. If you decided to do it through war, then have enough balls to to do it to the end. We have a weak government," assessed the regional chairperson.
Addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu directly, Yellin said "Mr. Prime Minister, if you were here for two days you'd make different decisions."
Israel is "submitting to terror"
Ashkelon was also targeted in the Tuesday barrage, with a home suffering a direct hit that lightly wounded 21 residents and left 29 others suffering from shock.
Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni criticized the ceasefire, saying "every concession to Hamas is a submission to terror. Residents of Israel and the south wanted to see (them) subdued in this campaign, but apparently that won't happen."
"We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life, but instead we're seeing Israel running to the negotiation table every opportunity that presents itself," added Shimoni, noting on the numerous ceasefire agreements that have consistently been breached by Hamas.
Remarking on the cost of the operation, Shimoni said "not for this 'achievement' did we lose 64 warriors and four citizens, among them a four-year-old boy. Not for this 'achievement' did we sit almost two months in shelters, not for this 'achievement' did we absorb a severe financial blow, and businesses here collapsed. We expected a lot more than this."
"Every agreement reached with Hamas is a submission to terror. They raised demands by force, and it appears that they will get what they wanted. The conclusion: terror pays. And therefore the next clash is just a matter of time," concluded Shimoni.