'Israel Has Given Up Its Sovereignty Over Territory Near Gaza'

Kibbutz Kfar Aza residents fume at response to rocket attacks; Ramon: Barak's Gaza policy 'total failure.'

Residents of a Gaza-area community on Saturday accused the government of having abandoned them in the face of ongoing cross-border attacks by Palestinian militants.

"The state of Israel has ceded its sovereignty over Gaza-area communities because of electoral considerations [that] dictate to the Israel Defense Forces what to do," fumed a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

He made the comments at a ceremony to mark the birthday of Jimmy Kedoshim, a kibbutz member who was killed in May in a mortar attack launched by Hamas militants.

The Kfar Aza resident added: "We entered the truce from a position of weakness, they told us that this is because of Gilad Shalit. One hundred and eighty days have passed and Gilad Shalit is still in captivity and the mortar shells are still hitting the kibbutz."

Earlier Saturday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon blasted Defense Minister Ehud Barak's policy on the Gaza Strip as a "total failure" as Palestinian militants in the coastal territory pounded southern Israel with a barrage of rocket and mortar fire.

"Barak's policy has suffered a total failure, is seriously harming the residents of the South and the national security of the State of Israel, and is causing inestimable political damage," said Ramon.

The Vice Premier also said he demands that outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hold an urgent discussion in order to immediately change Israel's policy with regard to Gaza.

In light of the upsurge in cross-border attacks from Gaza, Kibbutz Movement Secretary-General Ze'ev Shor called on Barak and Olmert to declare the reinforcement of homes in Gaza-area Israeli communities as a national priority.

"A general [Israel Defense Forces reservist] call-up order needs to be issued in order to finish this within two months," said Shor, speaking at a conference in the North on Friday.