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Sderot Residents Demand Gov´t Action Against Kassams

Residents of Sderot, who have been targeted by hundreds of Kassam rockets since the retreat from Gaza, protested in Jerusalem today against the government's failure to deal with the problem.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/19/2006, 2:16 PM / Last Update: 2/19/2006, 11:58 AM

"I want representatives of the government of Israel," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal told Arutz-7 from the protest site, "to come here and explain to us how to put children to sleep at night when they never know when the next Kassam will come crashing by."

"The government ministers used to talk to us," Moyal said, "but now it's been four months that they don't look at us. [Defense Minister Sha'ul] Mofaz used to call, but now he doesn't, and Meir Sheerit, who used to be Transportation Minister, said that he can't come to see us because it's election time, and that he'll try to get us a meeting with his Director-General..."

Over the past 12 weeks, over 320 Kassam rockets have been fired. Most recently, two rockets were fired at the western Negev city - just an aerial kilometer from Gaza - on Thursday, bringing the week's total number of Kassams to close to a dozen. The rockets have caused miraculously little damage or casualties, though a baby was seriously wounded two weeks ago in Kibbutz Carmiyah.

Two or three of the rockets have landed in or very near to the Rotenberg Power Plant in southern Ashkelon. Israel's second-largest electric station, it supplies about a quarter of Israel’s electricity.

"Why is the government ignoring the fact that businesses here are suffering?" Moyal asked. "The value of apartments here has dropped 75%. Our children are suffering and not stable. What other country allows rockets to be fired at its cities and then responds with scattered artillery?"

Arutz-7 asked Moyal, "If you could meet with the government ministers, what would you suggest?"

Moyal: "I've suggested in the past that they simply bomb Beit Hanoun [a northern-Gaza bastion of terror], but they didn't listen. The government has to find the way to silence the shooting. In the meantime, at least they should increase the defenses in our city - on schools and public places and the like. Fortifications are not the solution, but if the government thinks otherwise, then let them at least do that!"

"If they tell us that there is no solution," Moyal said with a trace of sarcasm, "then let them say so, and compensate us for our homes, and we'll just leave."

Among the some 400 protestors outside the government offices today were MKs Benny Elon and Zevulun, the heads of the National Union-National Religious Party list for the upcoming elections, as well as MK Yuri Stern of Yisrael Beiteinu. A representative of the Prime Minister's Bureau also addressed the protestors.

Israel Air Force craft attacked two Palestinian terrorists making their way to the border fence around Gaza this morning, killing both.

The condition of the man who was stabbed in Maaleh Adumim last night is now listed as stable. Police cite the facts that the victim's wallet was not taken, the tracks of the attackers lead to the fence around Maaleh Adumim, and the responsibility taken by a PA terrorist group as evidence that the attack was terrorist in nature. The 45-year-old victim, who said he was stabbed by two Arabs, was brought to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in serious condition after having been stabbed in his chest and stomach.