Protecting the Gaza Periphery

Photo: Nomi Sigal, IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

Following mounting missile fire upon Israel from the Gaza Strip, the Home Front Command and the Defense Ministry decided on Tuesday (Dec. 30) to reinforce the Caravan Site community of Nitzan B, which is located close to the previously evacuated Gush Katif community.

Date: 30/12/2008, 7:55 PM     Author: Arnon Ben Dror

Following mounting missile fire upon Israel from the Gaza Strip, the Home Front Command and the Defense Ministry decided on Tuesday (Dec. 30) to reinforce the Caravan Site community of Nitzan B, which is located close to the previously evacuated Gush Katif community. The community will be protected by concrete reinforcements and concrete blocks on educational institutions and on open areas close to resident’s homes in order to facilitate their probability of reaching a safe place while the incoming rocket warning goes off.

The relatively short amount of time that it took the Defense Ministry and the Home Front Command to complete the reinforcements on the community is not coincidental. Colonel Eitan Yitzhak, Commander of the Southern Territory of the Home Front Command, explained the difference between reinforcing the communities in the current situation and reinforcing the communities before the operation in Gaza. “The protection of communities before the operation in Gaza was a long process because we were coordinating with civilian organizations, which made it possible to synchronize the army schedule,” explained Colonel Yitzhak. “Today we are in an emergency situation; the IDF (Zahal) is fully deployed and the local authorities have a willingness and readiness to make themselves available in emergency situations.”

Regarding the general public, Colonel Yitzhak said: “My mood changes every time I go north. Despite the confusion and initial threat felt, we feel that the citizens understand that they are our partners in a moment that could be significant in terms of the security of the State of Israel,” he continued, “At the time that the IDF (Zahal) launched the attacks against Hamas, the responsiblity of the citizens is to create a united front. They understand that as long as they follow the guidelines they will aid us in this operation.” To conclude, Colonel Yitzhak remarked, “The morale of the public is high.”

Due to the barrage of rocket fire over the past few days and the expansion of the rockets’ range, there is increased pressure for the IDF (Zahal) and the Defense Ministry to provide solutions and answers to the residents of the Gaza periphery. When it comes to the protection of these communities, the big question is– who comes first? The main factors taken into consideration when making these decisions are the proximity of the communities to the Gaza Strip and the amount of rockets that are fired towards the community from Gaza.