Olmert: ‘A Country Cannot Protect Itself Ad Infinitum’

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at a conference Thursday that Israel will never be able to totally protect Sderot residents from rocket attacks.

Hana Levi Julian ,

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned in a speech at the annual Caesarea Conference Thursday night that Sderot residents should not expect to be completely protected against Kassam rocket attacks fired at the town from northern Gaza.

The Prime Minister declared that his government cannot offer reinforced rooftops for every edifice within rocket range, saying: "A country cannot protect itself ad infinitum, because there would be no end to it."

He added that providing rocket-proof structures to all the city’s beleaguered residents who have suffered continuous rocket attacks for seven years, would come at the expense of the security establishment's operational needs.

The Prime Minister also took a swipe at the media and said it should not "encourage, even mutely, demands of citizens that no normal government could accept."

Olmert did not relate to the oft-repeated demand of residents to lead a comprehensive military offensive into Gaza to crush the terrorist infrastructure as was done in Judea and Samaria in Operation Defense Shield in 2002.

As a result of the ongoing attacks, students at the Sapir College near Sderot had vowed a day earlier to boycott graduation ceremonies scheduled to take place outdoors on the day of Olmert’s speech. The students said they felt the danger of a rocket attack at such a large gathering warranted an indoor event. More than 1,000 students and parents had been invited to take part.

Six rockets had been fired at the southern town the previous day, with the last two of the day exploding Wednesday evening. One of these rockets slammed into the Sapir College campus, damaging a building, and the other hit a structure near the Magen David Adom Ambulance and Medical station under construction. Two women were treated for shock.

The students appealed to the college administration to change the location of the event, but officials replied that the Home Front Command had given permission to hold the graduation outside.

At the end, the event was cancelled altogether due to the danger from rocket attacks.

Government promises to fortify public buildings and homes against the rocket attacks have not materialized, nor have funds been allocated for the purpose.