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Many residents of the Qassam-battered southern communities said they would vote for the right-wing parties as they headed to vote yesterday.

"The left has abandoned us," said Shai, a resident of Sderot. "Shas, Likud and [Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor] Lieberman are competing for our votes."

During the last elections, Sderot locals largely voted for Labor, which was headed by local resident Amir Peretz. As Peretz came to his polling station yesterday morning, there were no signs supporting his party anywhere in sight.

Not everyone in town backed the right: Sderot Mayor David Buskila, for one, was campaigning for Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. "Mo one here would vote for Livni if it weren't for Buskila," residents said. "He's worked hard for her."

Meanwhile, voters at nearby Kibbutz Baram remained loyal to the traditional Kibbutz Movement choice, Labor. Local activists outside the kibbutz polling station tried to dissuade one resident from voting for Likud.

"Why should you vote for Bibi?" - Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu - they asked him. "He already failed as prime minister and will only damage the country." The voter was eventually persuaded to vote Labor.

"I voted for Ehud Barak because I wanted him as defense minister," the man explained. "If Bibi becomes prime minister then he will be the defense minister, and I don't want [Barak] to be wiped off the political map."