Heads of councils located in the Gaza vicinity, as well as hundreds of the area`s residents took part in the lighting of the eight Hanukkah candle at the Knesset`s Chagall Hall Sunday evening. The event was held in the presence of Deputy Knesset Speaker Bezalel Smotrich and Knesset Director-General Ronen Plot.

The local council heads who took part in the ceremony included Tamir Idan, head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, Shaar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Schuster, Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni, who was severely injured during Operation Protective Edge, and others.

Addressing children from Gaza-vicinity communities, MK Smotrich said ”our entire nation stands in awe of your heroism and strength to withstand the Qassams. You are representatives of the entire Israeli nation. We support you and thank you for your heroism.”

Minister of Welfare and Social Services Haim Katz told the residents of communities located near the Gaza Strip ”you are here because you were, and remain, an example of steadfastness and power. You have been our defensive shield and protective edge for years. Particularly you, the children, because children pay the heaviest price. In my eyes, you are a symbol of heroism, no less than the heroism of the Hasmoneans in their time.”

Sdot Negev Regional Council head Idan said the residents of the councils that were under constant threat heroically endured the attempts to disrupt their lives, and thus gave the government ”a tailwind” to make intelligent decisions. ”The determination and dedication of our residents allow us, the council heads, to face the challenges of time. We invest many resources in order to improve the defense of our residents while allowing them to have a daily routine,” he said.

Idan presented Director-General Plot with a menorah made of remnants of Qassam rockets that were fired from Gaza towards south Israel. ”Behind this creation is a message, the essence of which is that we must banish darkness with light. We turned the rockets, which are used to spread darkness, into a menorah which spreads light.”