(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following are Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s remarks in Sderot today (Tuesday), 29 June, 2004:

“Distinguished citizens,
Mayor Eli Moyal,
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz,

We have come here today to show solidarity with the residents of the city of Sderot and with the residents of the area.  I know Sderot very well and I know that the last two days have been especially difficult; the residents of the city have gone through difficult days but the last two days have been the most difficult of all.

With the goal of strengthening the area around the Gaza Strip, approximately two weeks ago, I directed Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ilan Cohen to prepare an action plan to strengthen the local authorities in the area and to enable residents to receive better services.  The plan includes assistance with local tax payments and for special educational programs such as meals, the Yaniv project and summer camps.  Also, the plan includes preferences in the fields of health, social welfare, industry and employment.

I have invited here today the directors-general of the relevant ministries so that together we may see if there are unresolved problems on this issue and regarding issues that the government has decided upon previously.  I intend to submit the plan for Cabinet approval this Sunday.

One thing is clear: We do not intend to ignore what happened here.  The security establishment has already begun actions designed to prevent such rocket fire.  This will not be a simple operation but we are determined to take wide-ranging action in order to assure that what happened here does not recur, not before we will have evacuated the Gaza Strip and not afterward.”