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IDF: Millions needed for Gaza vicinity towns

IMRA November 20, 2005

Home Front Commander demands to urgently receive NIS 70 million (USD 15
million) to complete Qassam alert system, reinforce houses of communities
surrounding Gaza
Ronny Sofer

We urgently need NIS 70 million (about USD 15 million) in order to complete
an alert and warning system against Qassam rockets and to protect buildings
in the communities surrounding Gaza, Home Front Commander Major-General
Yitzhak Gershon said Sunday.

Gershon spoke during an emergency discussion held by the Ministers’
Committee for the Negev and the Galilee.

The budget deficit the Home Front commander referred to relates to the
completion of siren and public address components in the “Red Dawn” alert
system.

In addition, the funds are needed for immediate reinforcement of education
institutions in the communities surrounding Gaza, from Kerem Shalom in the
south, through Sderot, up to Moshav Nativ Ha’asara.

Following many cutbacks, the government agreed on a budget of NIS 210
million (about USD 47 million) for the protection of the communities, within
three years. Of this amount, approximately NIS 85 million (about USD 19
million) have been allocated so far.

However, in light of the difficult security reality in the communities
surrounding the Gaza Strip, immediate additional investments are demanded in
order to protect the residents’ lives.

Peres to talk to PM

Vice Premier Shimon Peres, chairman of the ministers’ committee, said at the
start of the emergency discussion that “We cannot accept a situation in
which the State of Israel evacuated Gaza but neglected to defend the
communities surrounding Gaza.”

“They are entitled to full defense and an advanced-technology alert system.
The ministers’ committee headed by me will use all the means
at its disposal in order to immediately transfer another NIS 70 million,” he
said.

Uri Naamati, head of the Eshkol regional council, said during the discussion
that “The problem is not the speed of implementing the protection projects.
The problem is the transfer of funds. The residents feel that they have been
abandoned and that their security has been neglected.”

Major-General Gershon agreed with him and told the ministers that the
protection operations in about one-third of the area have not been completed
yet.

“Although the State of Israel defined the projects as a high priority, the
government did not transfer the funds required for its completion. Due to
the urgency, we immediately need approximately NIS 70 million,” he said.

At the end of the discussion, Peres said that he would approach the prime
minister on the issue already on Sunday. He promised to also talk to the
finance and defense ministers in order to locate the funding sources for
protecting the wellbeing of the residents of communities surrounding Gaza,
who are being threatened by Qassam rockets and mortar shells.

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