Every day, the manager of Sderot's municipal swimming pool spends hours in a local cafe, watching television and chatting with friends. This is the second year in a row that the pool has been closed, so Charlie Levy has little work to do.
It does not seem to bother the city managers that he nevertheless continues to draw a salary. The municipality says he is working in the meantime as "manager of the [city's] emergency stores."
"I obey the city's orders," Levy shrugged. "I'll open the pool whenever they decide."
The Olympic-sized pool, which opened in the 1980s, was once one of the most popular in the south, attracting people from many neighboring towns.
The compound also includes tennis courts and a five-a-side soccer field. But over the last two years, even as pools in nearby kibbutzim have remained open despite rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, Sderot's only pool has been shut.
Speaking to Haaretz last month, Mayor Eli Moyal said the problem is that opening the pool does not pay, because fear of the rockets has made people stay away. He noted that the franchisee whom the city chose to run the pool gave up the contract after only one season, because he lost money.
But why has the truce with Gaza not changed the situation?
"The truce fell on us like a bolt from the blue," said the city's treasurer, Shimon Peretz. "The consideration behind the pool's closure isn't financial, it's security. But the pool was closed, and over time, it became unusable. Now, we've begun work to return it to public use."
Visits to the pool over the last two days, however, uncovered no signs of any work in progress.
"It's true that by the time the work finishes, summer will be over," Peretz acknowledged. "But no one will be hurt."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now