|Israel Resource Review
||30th March, 2007
Robert Rechnitz: A man with a vision for Israel's National Camp
Robert Rechnitz, from Los Angeles, the president of a Zionist organization known as Bnai Zion, married with three children and two grandchildren, served as the chairman of the recent Jerusalem Conference, held after Purim at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
At this point in time, Robert Rechnitz is not well known in Israel or in the Jewish organizational world
However, there is every chance that Robert Rechnitz will soon become a man to be reckoned with, because he has a goal and a vision, and because he puts his money where his mouth is, underwriting much of the costs of the Jerusalem Conference, while launching numerous American investment opportunities in Israeli real estate and Israeli companies, to establish a real business like presence throughout Israel.
In his opening remarks to the Jerusalem Conference, Rechnitz defined the purpose of the Jerusalem conference quite succinctly – to forge a dialogue between Israel's national/religious camp and the current leadership of the country and with the Jewish people. to demonstrate a presence that Israel and the rest of the world cannot ignore.
Following the Israel government's Disengagement/Convergence policies, Rechnitz had hoped that the Jerusalem Conference would provide a forum for dialogue with the policy makers of the office of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of the country, yet that did not happen at this conference
Rechnitz expressed his concern that Israel "cannot lose the soul of the country", and mentioned that he is worried when the Far East becomes "the greatest attraction to the young Israeli"
Indeed, Rechnitz possesses a vision for future Jerusalem Conferences that will, in the spirit of the Hagaddah, "reach out to the son who do not know how to ask", to reach out to Israeli society and world Jewry.
As a model, Rechnitz expressed deep admiration for the activities of Uzi Landau, who has recently launched a
project to acquaint
a new generation with the frontiers of Judea and Samaria. Rechnitz also looked to the model of the Ariel College,
where 60% of the student population studies from outside of Judea and Samaria.
To that end, Rechnitz suggests that future Jerusalem Conferences have sessions in English, and that world leaders and foreign politicians be given a platform.
A way to realize Rechnitz's vision would be to plan the next Jerusalem Conference with "outreach" as its theme –
Instead of holding the conference at an isolated location, the conference could be held on the grounds of Hebrew University, where many students and faculty have never had any real exposure to the national religious camp in Israel.
The timing of the sessions could be in the evening, so that working people can attend the conference.
Meanwhile, following through on the Rechnitz vision of outreach, the goal of the next Jerusalem Conference could be to address the question of how to broaden the support base for Israel's National Religious camp. The massive expulsions from Katif and Samaria proved just how thin that current support base is.
A special session should be held on how to reinvigorate the national religious spirit in Israeli and Disapora youth.
Special sessions could be held on improving the relations between Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria with Israel's development towns, with the movers and shakers of the Israeli business community, and with diaspora Jewry, with
The next Jerusalem Conference could provide an appropriate setting for educators from all walks of religious education to dialogue with one another.
The question of how the national religious camp can develop new strategies to effectively with the media must also be placed on the agenda, instead of viewing the press as a monolithic enemy.
Te Jerusalem Conference could also provide an appropriate venue to invite the representatives of the foreign governments currently finance the "Settlement Watch" activities of Peace Now.
Ironically, on the same day that the Jerusalem Conference convened, the "Settlement Watch" project of Peace Now conducted a public lecture in downtown Jerusalem on the subject of "get to know the settlements", in a session that was attended by more than one hundred people from all walks of life in Jerusalem – hardly any of whom defined themselves as "left wing" .Peace Now offered lectures, maps, booklets and tours of Judea and Samaria – something that the national religious camp rarely does.
In accordance with the vision of Robert Rechnitz, these are the people whom the Jerusalem Conference should be attracting – Jews who are curious about Israel's "settlements" . The fact is that the vast majority of the people of Israel have never been presented with the opportunity to learn about the greatest enterprise of Zionism since 1967. The question remains: Will PEACE NOW teach the people about Israel's national religious camp or will the Rechnitz vision prevail- to seek out the proverbial child at the Seder table who does not know how to ask the question.
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Peres fibbed about military service on official web page
Elder statesman of Israel's parliament, Shimon Peres, 83, falsified the biographical information on his official Knesset Web page to imply military service that he never performed, journalist David Bedein has claimed in the Philadelphia Bulletin.
Peres, branded as a perennial loser (having never won a major election) and now pulling out all the stops to mount a last-gasp campaign for president, describes his military record as follows:
"Military Service Haganah; IDF; Temporary Head of Naval Services, 1950"
But, Bedein claims, citing his biographer and official records, Peres never served in the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, nor was he the "temporary head of Naval Services" in 1950.
In Peres' biography on his official Ministry of Foreign Affairs page, the facts are presented differently: "In Israel's War of Independence (1947-48), Peres was responsible for arms purchases and recruitment, and in 1948 was appointed head of the naval services."
Bedein reports that Peres was ridiculed early in his career for not having served in any military capacity in the war of independence for the nascent Jewish state. The official Israel Ministry of Defense Lexicon of Israeli Defense, published in 1976 when Peres was minister of Defense, identifies Peres as only holding a desk job at the new Israel Ministry of Defense, "responsible for naval matters," appointed to that position in 1949.
Peres' office, asked for a response on the misrepresentation of Peres on the official site of the Israeli Knesset, declined to comment.
His official biographer, Dr. Michael Bar Zohar, however, confirmed that Peres never served in the IDF, Bedein reported.
Yet, in an interview with the "Academy of Achievement" after pushing (some say buying) his way into a Nobel Prize originally to be shared by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Peres said: " I joined the army as a private. I was offered a rank at that time, but I refused. I preferred to remain a private. First of all, I wasn't taken by ranks, and before I knew it, they put me in the most sensitive positions anyway. I thought if I should be a colonel or a general, there would always be somebody above me, but if I should be a soldier, nobody will command me. I shall be totally independent, and that's what happened. I was a private, but sitting in the heart of the Haganah, later in the army."
Then PM David Ben-Gurion, Peres claimed, had bigger things in mind for him: "Later on, there were some problems with our navy, so he made me the head of the navy -- all things that I hardly knew anything about. I was basically an ignorant young man." The interviewer is taken aback: "When we look at your biography, you are suddenly the head of the Navy, and there is no information preceding that about a naval career." Peres answers: "No, no, nothing whatsoever. It was like a fire brigade."
After this stream of apparent misrepresentations, Peres may again find himself trying to put out some fires.
© 2001-2004 Koret Communications Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Shimon Peres falsified official bio?:
Elder statesmen claims he served in military, was chief of Israeli navy
Middle East Correspondent, World Net Daily
Israeli presidential candidate, former prime minister and long-time parliament member Shimon Peres is accused of falsifying his official biography on Israel's Knesset website to claim he served in the military and temporarily headed the Jewish state's navy.
According to Israeli military documents, Peres' official biographer and prominent military historians here, Peres held desk jobs in the Ministry of Defense but never served in the army or as chief of the navy.
Yet under the "Military Service" section of Peres' official Knesset bio, which is published in Hebrew, English and Arabic, Peres lists, "Haganah; IDF (Israel Defense Forces); Temporary Head of Naval Services, 1950." The entry was first noticed by David Bedein, correspondent for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.
(Story continues below)
The Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization that later became the IDF after Israel's establishment in 1948. According to Peres biographers, Peres never fought in the Haganah. His official biographer, Michael Bar Zohar, confirmed Peres never served in the IDF. Indeed, Peres was ridiculed early in his career for not having served in any military capacity during Israel's War of Independence.
Aryeh Yitzhaki, a prominent Israeli military historian, told WND today Peres never served in the IDF, but that in the early 1950s he was a political clerk in the Ministry of Defense offices in Tel Aviv. Yitzhaki is a professor at Bar Ilan University and a senior lecturer for IDF officers in the field of military history.
Records from the prime minister's office described Peres' military role in the aftermath of the 1948 war as overseeing logistics involving the drafting of 17-year-old male and female recruits from the Zionist youth movements to the new Israeli army.
"Peres never fought in the army," Yitzhaki said.
Ayelet Frish, a spokeswoman for Peres, conceded to WND Peres never served in the army, but she claimed the elder statesman was chief of Israel's navy "for four months in 1949."
Peres' biography stated he was navy head in 1950.
"Look, the man did a lot for his country whether or not he served," Frish said.
But Yitzhaki said Peres was never the chief of the navy.
IDF naval archives in 1949 and 1950 do not list Peres as naval chief. Paul Shuman is identified as naval head during the period Peres claims he was in charge. Peres, instead, is listed as holding a desk job at the Defense Ministry "responsible for naval matters."
Peres himself claimed in the past he served in the army. During a 2003 interview with the Museum of Living History in Washington D.C., Peres stated, "I joined the army as a private. I was offered a rank at that time, but I refused. I preferred to remain a private. First of all, I wasn't taken by ranks, and before I knew it, they put me in the most sensitive positions anyway. I thought if I should be a colonel or a general, there would always be somebody above me, but if I should be a soldier, nobody will command me. I shall be totally independent, and that's what happened. I was a private."
Peres went on to claim to a skeptical interviewer he was head of Israel's navy.
"Later on, there were some problems with our navy, so [Prime Minister Ben Gurion] made me the head of the navy – all things that I hardly knew anything about. I was basically an ignorant young man," Peres said during the interview.
The interviewer asked: "When we look at your biography, you are suddenly the head of the navy, and there is no information preceding that about a naval career?"
Peres answered: "No, no, nothing whatsoever. It was like a fire brigade."
The charges of falsifying his biography follow similar charges corroborated earlier this month against a new Knesset member who falsely reported on her Knesset bio university degrees she never obtained.
They also follow the recent release of a biography on Peres, entitled, "Shimon Peres," that reveals a draft agreement Peres hammered out with West Germany in 1961 to allow the creation of German military bases on Israeli soil less than two decades after the Holocaust.
The biography also details a controversial plan Peres concocted to lease French Guyana from France and create an Israeli colony there at a time when the nine-year-old Israel was desperate for immigrants and struggling to establish itself.
Peres, Israel's longest serving Knesset member, was appointed deputy prime minister and minister for the development of the Israeli Negev desert for the current government. He has held a number of top positions, including foreign minister and minister of communications and defense. Although never elected to Israel's highest office, Peres served twice as prime minister, once following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and another time in an unusual deal that saw a rotating unity government for which Peres served as prime minister for two years.
He was considered the driving force of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which invited late-PLO leader Yasser Arafat to rule the Palestinians and take over territory within rocket range of Israel's major population centers.
Peres is currently trying to succeed the president of Israel, Moshe Katzav, who has been embroiled in a rape scandal the past few months. Currently, the president is elected by secret ballot. Peres has been trying to pass a law that would change the process to be open-ballot in a move widely seen as a scheme to get himself elected. Peres is believed to have lost the previous presidential elections, held in 2000, because a number of Knesset members who publicly stated that they would vote for him voted for Katsav instead.
Aaron Klein is WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem bureau chief, whose past interview subjects have included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Mahmoud al-Zahar and leaders of the Taliban.
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Commentary: The Saudi Plan and more
I would like to return to the entire issue of the Saudi peace plan and whatever negotiations Israel may or may not have with the Palestinians or with Abbas in particular.
Let me begin by saying how bewildering this entire thing is -- how incomprehensible and upside down it all seems. The bottom line here is that the unity gov't doesn't recognize our right to exist and will not foreswear terrorism. That unity gov't, in whatever formulation, would constitute the gov't of a Palestinian state -- clearly not a gov't that would live in peace with us. And keep in mind that even if Abbas were to negotiate as head of the PLO, he is bound by the Mecca agreement to bring any negotiated settlement back to the unity gov't for approval. So why then are the UN Sec. of State and the UN Sec. Gen. so incredibly obtuse as to babble on and on about a window of opportunity for peace? What absolutely perverse things are transpiring here?
One of the members of this list has written to say that there might be a small window (a mere crack) of opportunity for incremental negotiations with the Arab League, and wonders if it is not a good idea for someone to "do a little shuttling to see if small issues can be carved out on which some actual, enforceable agreements can be reached."
I begin by saying that my reader is not alone in this thought, and that there are people here in this country who are thinking the same: we have to try, is the reasoning. And I will follow by saying that I am absolutely, unequivocally opposed to trying for the simple reason that I don't trust the Arab intentions or motivations any further than I could throw Prince Saud.
We've tried and we've tried and we've tried, you see. What we have to show for it is a weakened security position and over 1,000 dead with many more wounded, some handicapped for life. This is what the notion that we "had to try" with Oslo brought us. I have no interest in going that route.
There are some essential realities that must be confronted, and dealt with:
It is not just a Palestinian Arab notion that we have to be driven into the sea, though perhaps the Palestinian Arabs have the most immediate vested interest with regard to this. It is a Muslim Arab perspective pretty much across the board. We are "interlopers," "Zionist colonialists" on Muslim land. We are an affront to them.
Why was it that they wouldn't accept partition of Palestine in 1947? Because they couldn't bear to give the Jews anything.
Why did they attack us on our Independence Day? Because they were determined to destroy us at our moment of birth.
Why was the PLO founded before Israel had Judea & Samaria, and Gaza? Because they didn't want us to have Israel even within the Green Line and were determined to "liberate" it.
Why did they gear up for war again in 1967? Because of the hope that finally they could defeat us utterly.
Why have the Arab nations (with the exception of Jordan) consistently refused to absorb Palestinian Arab refugees? Because they were determined to use the refugees as weapons against us, parading that "right of return" with the intention of destroying us from within.
There is no concrete evidence now that this attitude has really changed. Especially as they are still promoting "right of return." What changes are the tactics and postures and pretenses. Until they demonstrate a genuine desire to live in peace with Israel, and are willing to accept Israel's right to exist here, there can be no peace. That time will not come until they are convinced they cannot defeat us. What this means -- this is my constant refrain -- is that we must remain strong to that end. Sadat came to Jerusalem when he saw no other way of regaining the Sinai (he tried by war first in 1973). Anything that weakens us actually works against the possibility of peace. In that way, trying can be a very bad thing,
I keep on coming back in my mind to what I wrote about the other day, with regard to Prof. Moshe Sharon's thesis that the Arabs treat peace negotiations like a bazaar. In the market place the price of merchandise goes up if the buyer is too eager. Anyone who's shopped in the shuk here knows this. You act cool. You don't gush over the merchandise. I've had it happen that I've asked to see a particular piece and then realized it wasn't what I wanted, and said, no, sorry, but it didn't suit my needs. "I'll take off 10 shekels, Geveret." "No, really, it's not what I need." "I'll take off 20 shekels then." But here the West is falling all over itself with its determination to "make peace." And Olmert? He just declared that he would make many sacrifices to be able to talk with the Arabs. Oi vey! This may send Condoleezza into a state of near ecstasy, but this is not the thing to say. The Arabs hear it all, they know what the desperate eagerness is. And so they expect to be able to get away with structuring terms to their liking, in truth, terms that would be ultimately destructive to us.
We must keep in mind that Islam sanctions deception when dealing with non-Muslims. Islam sanctions peace treaties signed with the intent of breaking them later if the situation becomes more favorable to the Muslims. Muhammad himself did this. We cannot judge their negotiating stance by Western terms. Woe is to us if we do not understand them. Or fail to take them at their own words with regard to exhortations for jihad.
The Arabs must genuinely want peace and see it as in their best interest to pursue it. Then they will be ready to make sacrifices to achieve it. They are not nearly at that point yet.
There are those today who are suggesting that the Arabs might be motivated to make peace with Israel because of the common enemy Iran. This is a very shaky thesis and I will say more about this below.
It's important to remember the following:
Arafat broke every commitment he had with us within the context of Oslo. We signed for the PA to have a police force of a specific limited force. He doubled the number. We gave them weapons and training to combat terrorists and they turned on us instead. They failed to seek out terrorists even though this was something they were supposed to be committed to. Later Clinton's chief negotiator here, Dennis Ross, wrote that Arafat never surrendered the "terrorist card." He always fell back on violence as the way to try to coerce us to do more.
There is no reason under the sun to assume Abbas -- who was Arafat's deputy -- would do any better. Even now Olmert and Livni are complaining bitterly at how he has broken his promises to them repeatedly. He swore he wouldn't sign on to a unity gov't unless it adhered to the Quartet benchmarks, but he did. He swore he would have Shalit released before he signed on to the unity gov't, but of course that never happened. And he's in bed with the overtly terrorists forces.
My friend who raised the question with me speaks about "enforceable" agreements, and this too is something that must be addressed. For even if there is a theoretical mechanism for enforcement, it never happens. This is the final bitter reality. The world at large cuts the Palestinian Arabs incredible slack, never holding them accountable. And the world at large very much includes Israel. During the Oslo years, there were multiple opportunities for calling a halt and saying that it just wasn't working. Not only did no Israeli gov't ever do that, they often hid the truth from the Israeli population. Why? Because they had become so invested in the process. Because it would have been an embarrassment to the point of destroying their careers to admit had badly they had misjudged the situation. And so, I have no confidence in enforceability absent the reasonably good intentions of the Arabs. It won't happen.
The PLO has a long standing policy called the Strategy of Stages. It was a written policy. I have the text. It acknowledged that it would not be possible to take Israel all at once, and declared that Israel should be weakened in stages. When the Arabs call for a return to the pre-'67 lines, make no mistake about it: this is an attempt to weaken Israel, not a desire for a true, lasting two state solution. If the Palestinians wanted a state, they could have had it a long time ago. Weakening us is more important.
By the same token, each of the nations of the Arab League could sign a peace treaty with us independently, whether we resolved our issues with the Palestinian Arabs or not, if they truly wanted to. They have very little genuine concern for the Palestinians.
The current situation is that the Arab League says that there is no modification in the plan, which Israel should accept as is. After it is accepted, then there can be negotiations, they are saying. Negotiations on what, if it has all been accepted?
Abbas has now come out with a statement that a war would break out if Israel rejected the Palestinian "hand of peace." The audacity takes the breath away. This from the man who signed on to a gov't that endorses terrorism. At the Arab summit, Abbas said, "Whoever wants to change the Saudi initiative want to escape from a peace agreement." I detest this man.
There is going to be incredible pressure brought to bear on the gov't with regard to this, and I am praying big time that Olmert doesn't cave. I am not confident. His spokeswoman, Miri Eisen, says, Israel sees the "initiative as interesting and as the possible basis for a dialogue. We're not being more specific than that because we need to really sit down and study it."
Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, and currently head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is an expert on Saudi Arabia. He wrote a significant commentary -- "Are Saudis seeking peace?" -- in today's Post and I would like to share some of it:
According to Gold, Jim Hoagland disclosed to in yesterday's Washington Post that King Abdullah has cancelled a mid-April dinner with President Bush. Administration sources are reportedly saying that Riyadh has decided to instead seek common ground with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. This explains why the Saudis chose to strengthen Hamas during the Mecca agreement, at the expense of Abbas. [Note: at the time, Khaled Abu Toameh reported that the Saudis, ostensibly acting as mediators, practically forced Abbas to concede to Hamas on almost all issues. ]
The irony here is that the US had been counting on the Saudis to act as a moderating force. Although, conversely, Abbas had been counting on the Saudis to sell the unity gov't to the US.
Gold points out, and I'm so glad he does, that the problem with the Saudi initiative goes well beyond the issue of "right of return." It would deprive Israel of defensible borders. What is more, points out Gold, the term "normal relations" may promise less than it seems to.
Gold says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not at the top of the Saudi agenda; rather what is shaping Saudi policy is the expanding Iranian threat and "the weakness of the Western response."
" . . . Rice's instincts to seize the moment of a shared threat that both Israel and the Sunni Arab states perceive are essentially correct, but must be directed in totally different channels . . . quiet contacts between Israel and its neighbors make for more since than grandiose public diplomacy.
" . . . if Saudi Arabia seeks to present itself as a constructive force, it must use its political and financial clout behind the scenes to neutralize those groups working to undermine the stability of the Middle East at present. Only then will it be possible to explore building the foundations of the regional peace that was being spoken about earlier this week."
see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info
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Shelters Not Ready in Sderot , While Israeli government offices shirk responsibility
Noam Bedein, Avinoam Levy
Sderot Information Center for the Western Negev Ltd.
With a Conflict in Gaza Southern Israel on the horizon, no Israeli government offices will take responsibility to prepare shelters in Sderot, on the edge of Gaza
The city of Sderot has suffered over the past six years from the Kassam missile threat which comes from the Gaza Strip. Bomb shelters are crucial to save people's lives.
Yet from a discussion with the chief security officer in Sderot, Yehuda Ben-Maman (58), it is clear that there are still several bomb shelters which aren't meant for human presence.
Yehuda Ben-Maman is serving as the security officer of Sderot. This is his 6th year in the job. In addition he is responsible for the safety of all educational institutions and other emergency services in the city.
"Why aren't there any good bomb shelters and safety rooms fro the citizens of Sderot?
"Let's focus on the public sector", says Yehuda. "In Sderot there are 58 public bomb shelters which are categorized as following: 28 are defined as dual-purpose and they are in good shape, in 18 of them there isn't any electricity source nor a functioning faucet, seven others are flooded with rain water and are in terrible condition. The rest of the bomb shelters are lacking any electricity source and must be fixed soon."
Who's to blame for this neglect?
"I'll make myself very clear – I'm not blaming anyone. I expect the Home Front Command to fix the bomb shelters in the near future, as they did in the past, so we could upgrade the quality of the safety rooms. So as I said, I await the HFC's actions in this regard."
Why aren't there any shelters for the many of the schools in the city?
"Initially, the schools were intended to be fully secured. But due to financial problems that were reported by the HFC and the security office, the decision was to give a security package to each and every educational institute. However, this package doesn't meet all security needs, for instance when the "red color" alarm goes on, students move from an unprotected classroom to a protected one." Yehuda describes a legal procedure that was meant to improve the conditions of the bomb shelters: "Due to a Israel High Court of Justice decision, after the Sderot Parents Association sued for protection of the schools, the court demanded from the state of Israel to obtain in 45 days the necessary security means to the students of all educational institutions in Sderot. Consequently, we've rehearsed some security drills in some schools and we hope now that protection for the first three grades is on the way."
Are you familiar with an incident in which a Kassam missile has landed on a school?
"There are a few schools that were damaged by these missiles, here are some of the names: "Yesodei Hatora", "Shikmim Maoz", "Madayim Torani", "Madayim Alon".
In your opinion, do you suppose that security and protection in Sderot is more of a local worry that the police should handle or do you think the army and the government must be involved?
"I'm certain it's a matter that should concern the entire country and not only Sderot's municipality. The life of every citizen is the country's responsibility but the government isn't providing the security which is very much needed."
Economically, how much money is missing in order to build efficient safety rooms and is the neglect also due to the fact Sderot isn't Tel-Aviv and is considered a periphal city?
"You're talking about the private sector so I don't have an answer about how much money is needed. I don't think there are any stigmas about Sderot not being the center of interest. The problem is that the government is systematically ignoring the citizens' protests."
We've checked three main bomb shelters in Sderot and came up with the following:
1. The bomb shelter in Shabazi street is in the worst shape and won't be useful in emergency times due to its' terrible condition.
2. The public bomb shelter in the corner of the streets Moshe Rabainu and Yona is a dual-purpose bomb shelter and is in adequate condition. There are defects in the electrical l system, the air conditioning, and other minor details.
3. The public bomb shelter in Moshe Rabainu street, in Mishol Yitshak neighborhood, is in good shape and is used also as a synagogue.
When the spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior was asked about security funding and planning of safety rooms in Sderot she replied as following: " It has nothing to do with us, you should ask the Ministry of Defense. However, regarding planning we are in charge."
The Ministry of Defense's spokesman also didn't claim any responsibility for the situation and replied: please contact the HFC for security matters, since we don't deal with it at all." She added that "The Ministry of Defense has provided suitable safety rooms to some schools."
In other words, Ministry of Interior referred the responsibility to the Ministry of Defense which passed it to the HFC which passed it back to the Ministry of Interior. The tough question: "When will some public body take responsibility?", "When will somebody fix the bomb shelters in Sderot?." People were killed because of the lack of security rooms.
One must wonder: until when will this situation continue?.
Sderot Information Center for the Western Negev Ltd:
POB 472, 12 RaKefet Street, Sderot , Israel
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