Residents Close to Gaza Border Uneasy After Returning to More Rocket Fire

Senior Israeli official says situation for southern communities is ‘significantly better than before the operation.’

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Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.
Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Almost 60 rockets were fired at southern Israel on Friday, with residents living near the Gaza Strip admitting to frustration over the situation. “On Wednesday when they announced things could go back to routine, we still stayed in the north because we were afraid. We didn’t want to go back too soon before we saw there was quiet,” said Ruthie, from Kibbutz Alumim in the Sdot Negev Regional Council.

On Thursday, she added, when the authorities were still saying they could go home, they did so toward evening. “We were away from home with the children for four weeks, and despite the inconvenience we were able to calm them down a little. And today [Friday], the first thing they heard in the morning was a siren. Things can’t go on like this,” she said.

Despite the rocket fire, a senior official said the residents of the region “could live within their communities the way people continued to live during Operation Protective Edge in Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva, although there was firing.” According to the source, “These [border] communities have been fired at for years, and people didn’t leave because of it.”

The source added that the operation had delivered a killer blow to Hamas’ ability to fire rockets, and to the strategic capabilities of the tunnels. “We don’t say there are no threats, but the general situation is significantly better than before the operation.”

But residents of the communities next to the border are not calm. “It’s conceivable for them to deal with the tunnels and do nothing about the rockets. The fact that there was firing before doesn’t mean that it should go on and we should get used to it. There is huge damage, but the government doesn’t seem to care that much,” a resident of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, said.

Former Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin tweeted that he could not understand why the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had called on residents to return home before the 72-hour cease-fire was over. “Why did we have to hurry and show Hamas that the operation is over from our point of view, before the cease-fire had stabilized?” he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the residents of the area around Gaza were more secure than before the operation, and that “IDF forces that were not there before the operation would remain there to protect the communities.”

Six people were treated for injuries from rocket and mortar attacks Friday, including Dr. Nahmi Paz, head of Sapir College, Sderot, who was moderately injured by shrapnel from a mortar. Another person was slightly injured in the same strike, while three more people were slightly injured running for shelter. A Sderot resident was treated for shock after a rocket attack scored a direct hit on a house in the city. The family was not home at the time. Another rocket exploded earlier in a warehouse in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, causing some damage.

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