(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Sderot late Thursday evening, 17 Janaury 2008, in order to inspect the situation in the city, which has been hit by dozens of rockets in recent days. He was accompanied by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ra’anan Dinur.

Prime Minister Olmert first visited the Magen David Adom station. MDA Director-General Eli Bein briefed the Prime Minister on activity in recent weeks and noted that MDA is fully deployed to respond quickly around the clock.

Prime Minister Olmert continued to the city control center, where he was briefed on the number of rockets that have hit Sderot and other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip and on IDF Home Front Command activity to assist residents. IDF Home Front Command Southern District Commander, Col. Dedi Simchi said that residents are following instructions and added that their sense of security is increasing due to the increased IDF activity in the Gaza Strip. Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said that IDF actions in Gaza and Government activity to strengthen and reinforce structures in the city are bolstering residents’ sense of security and fortitude.

Prime Minister Olmert said: "We want to strike at those who are attacking us but we also want to be careful and precise and not hurt innocents. Therefore, while actions might not always be carried out on a massive scale, precise and sophisticated counter-terrorist and preventive actions are being carried out all the time. I am pleased to hear about the intensive actions in the Gaza Strip, along with the Government’s activity in reinforcing schools and bus stops. These and the other assistance being given to Sderot are allowing residents to deal better with the routine, which is not simple. I know that you want to see more and more action. We are making efforts all the time, and will continue, until our responses will be such as will cause the terrorist organizations to hesitate very much before they dare to fire."

At a meeting held at Kibbutz Gabim with regional council heads and area residents, Prime Minister Olmert said: "The future of the country is here and we know that we must do a great deal in order to assure your lives here. There will yet be difficult days but we are investing great resources and thought so as to allow you to conduct your lives quietly."