|Israel Resource Review
||1st November, 2006
Correspondence with advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel Responsible for Galilee & Negev Regions Concerning Situation in Sderot and the Western Negev.
October 16th, 2006
To: Gal Alon, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel
From: David Bedein, MSW, Bureau Chief, Israel Resource News Agency
This is written after visiting our new bureau in Sderot which will serve
the foreign media.
Since Israel can expect an escalation of attacks in the south over the
next few months, please note the following queries which have been generated from our office in Sderot:
1. While there are 17 social work professionals in Sderot, the city needs
a center for coordination of emergency social services and it needs a trauma center. At the same time, there is a sore lack of funding for
psychiatrists and psychologists on the scene, Will the government allocate funds for these purposes?
2. The 80 shelters in Sderot are locked and not yet ready, and at least 10
of the shelters are without water and electricity. Will the government
immediately prepare these shelters, to be ready to cope with a Lebanon-type situation of constant fire?
3. At least 800 homes in Sderot have no safe rooms in case of attack. Will
the government allocate resources to build safe rooms contiguous to these
4. Only 20% of the 34 million shekel security protection budget has been
allocated. Will the rest of the funds be allocated?
5. Some schools have been protected and others have not been protected,
while only parts of some schools have been protected. When will the protection in the schools be completed?
6. Sderot is being fired at from the haven of the UNRWA camp in Jabalya.
The people in UNRWA camp of Jabalya are descended from residents of Najd which is now Sderot, and they feel that they have a right to fire missiles from Jabalya at Sderot. The question is: Will the government make a formal demand to UNRWA and to the nations which fund UNRWA (USA- 31%, for example) to stop allowing UNRWA Jabalya residents from firing rockets into Sderot?
cell 0547 222 661
Answer received on October 30th, 2006:
"The government has decided to include Sderot and all other villages
around the Gaza Strip in a large 2.8 billion Shekels' plan to strengthen the North and Haifa. Under this plan, significant budgets are invested in creating education and employment opportunities. A full presentation about it can be found on our website. Generally, the government allocates annual funds to the local authorities to support the welfare services, and decisions about provision at the local level should be directed to the relevant authorities".
The issue of shelters is under the responsibility of the Ministry of
Interior, and questions should be directed to the local authority as well,
which is the major body who is in charge on the shelters. As to the
protection of school classes - the decision as of the way to protect these
classes (including which classes should be protected) was taken by
professionals. As to your questions about the lack of shelters and the
amount of budget used already - I have no information about it.
Prime Minister's Office
3 Kaplan Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Office: +972 (2) 6705518
Mobile: +972 (50) 6205766
Fax: +972 (2) 6513955
To: Gal Alon, Office of the Prime Minister of Israel
From: David Bedein, Israel Resource News Agency
Date: 1 November 2006
Thank you for relating to my questions, which are written from my perspective as a veteran community organization social worker (1974-1986) and my work as a journalist (1987-present)
Here are the follow up questions to your response:
1. Will there be an increase in the Israel government welfare allocations to Sderot and to the Western Negev, to ad the amount of social workers,
psychologists and Psychiatrists? Will a trauma center be created? Given the
emergency stress situation of an area under siege, if the government does not have the resources, will the PM ask for resources from private corporations and/or from local or foreign philanthropies? While you are correct to note that all decisions are made on the local level, as you point out, all policies and all increased allocations emanate from the national level.
Since Mr. Ehud Olmert also acts as he Minister of Social Affairs, it would also be appropriate to address these questions to him in that capacity.
2. You are correct in noting that the decision to protect the schools is taken by professionals in the Israel Ministry of Education and in the local department of education. However, the Ministry of Education and the local department of education do not have any more budget left in order to protect the schools, leaving some schools partially protected and some schools not protected at all.
Follow-up question: Will Prime Minister Olmert initiate an effort to raise
funds that are needed to protect ALL schools and kindergartens in Sderot and the Western Negev? Given the emergency stress situation of an area under siege, if the government does not have the resources, will the PM ask for resources from private corporations and/or from local or foreign philanthropies?
3. We have determined that the issue of shelters is under the jurisdiction of the Israel Civil Defence Command of "PIKUD HAOREF". Since our news agency cannot elicit a straight answer from them as to why the shelters in Sderot are locked and not prepared for the eventuality of an escalation of bombing which would require the residents of Sderot to stay in shelters while bombing occurs, will the office of the Prime Minister of Israel intervene to make sure that the shelters in Sderot are immediately prepared? Lives depend on this.
Thank you again for your time, and best of luck in your position.
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Commentary: Terrifying Times . . .
These are difficult times; no, terrifying times. And so I find I must call upon my readers once and again to be activist -- to move beyond just reading what I write, and to also share information or voice an appeal.
In my last posting I asked that you to let President Bush know that you support him in staying in Iraq. Now I ask that you contact him again.
Today commentator Michael Freund wrote a piece called "Right on! An appeal of faith to President Bush," which he starts by saying:
"Dear Mr. President, I am writing to you because I am afraid. I have been closely following the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the past few months, and I want you to know that I am gripped with a sense of fear.
"I fear for the future of Israel and for that of the entire Jewish people, as the would-be Hitler of Persia readies to do battle against us with the most horrific of weapons.
"I fear for the future of the West, because outside of Washington, few and far between are the leaders with the common sense and courage to stand up to the Tyrant of Teheran.
"And I fear for the future of the world, because if Iran's fundamentalists get their hands on a nuclear weapon, it will only be a matter of time before their extremist allies abroad become similarly armed.
"Hence, I am writing to you because I am convinced that you alone understand and appreciate the gravity of the current situation, and I pray in my heart that you will not let it stand.
"I appeal to you now, not as a political analyst nor as a newspaper columnist, but as one man of faith to another: Please strike Iran hard with military force, and dismantle its nuclear weapons program, before it is too late . . . "
You can find the entire appeal at:
Please, copy this URL and e-mail it to the President with a short message saying that you are providing a link to a powerful appeal for him to strike Iran, written by Israeli commentator Michael Freund. Say that you hope he will read it, and take it to heart. If you wish, also copy and paste the beginning of it, that I provide above, or add your own appeal.
Send this to: Comments@whitehouse.gov
Then I ask that you also see my most recent article, up just today:
This is about Carter and his position on Israel; it is important. Please, share the URL widely.
I have been picking up information about the growing terrorist threat in Gaza with a sense of despair. It is clear as clear can be to me that what is required is a major pre-emptive military operation that will take out the sophisticated weaponry and the Hamas army before they hit us. Required to save innocent Jewish lives, and from that perspective actually commanded of us. We must not act like sitting ducks, waiting to be blown away. But all that has been done so far are "band-aid" operations, in which we go in and kill a few terrorist or blow up a few tunnels, and come out again. Peretz keeps on declaring that we won't stay in Gaza, though why not is unclear -- nor should we be declaring this even if we don't intend to. Announcements are made about stopping the Kassams, with declarations that IDF operations will stop if the Kassams stop. But this is ludicrous, when you consider what is building in Gaza and what we will have to deal with later. Kassams are the very least of it.
And now, today, Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily has put out an article that addresses these very issues. It is not encouraging. Says Klein, "Hamas could establish in the Gaza Strip a military division of nearly 10,000 troops with an operational force similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon if the terror group continues to strengthen at its current pace, according to information released yesterday by the Israeli Defense Forces."
The IDF, according to a top military official, submitted plans to Olmert last week for a major operation that would stop smuggling, confiscate weaponry already smuggled in, and badly damage the terrorist infrastructure -- an operation that this official believes is crucial to Israeli security. Olmert, however, has been restraining the IDF and approving those smaller missions only.
The larger operation, in my opinion, is necessary not only to protect us from a Hezbollah-like attack coming from Gaza. It would also have enormous deterrent value. Right now we are perceived as being weak, and responding with strength is the best way to discourage attacks from other quarters -- our enemies need to be afraid of us, and what we will do, once again.
Despair, I tell you.
It is increasingly clear that the entire "diplomatic resolution" of the Lebanese war this summer was a fiasco that is in the process of self-destructing.
Israel has been in conflict with the UN and the UNIFIL forces headed by France with regard to IDF fly-overs being done to monitor the smuggling of weapons from Syria to rearm Hezbollah. In the face of evidence that this rearming is taking place in defiance of the resolution, it has been particularly galling that Israel has been accused of violating the resolution by entering Lebanese air space.
But, now, for the first time this week, the UN issued a report stating directly that Hezbollah was being re-armed. Israel then announced yesterday that it may rethink its commitment to the resolution. "If Lebanon cannot implement its side of the resolution, obviously Israel would be entitled to rethink the implementation of our commitments," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
Today the dynamic has shifted further: The White House has put out a strongly worded statement indicating that there is "mounting evidence" that Syria and Iran are joining with Hezbollah in an effort to topple the Lebanese government.
Difficulties for Israel can be ignored, but now that the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora may be threatened, the tide has turned.
This posting can be found at: http://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/11/1/posted-november-1-2006.html
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Holding Ehud Barak Accountable for Hezbullah . . .
In reference to "Will Ehud Barak be Labor's new minister?", (Jerusalem Post, November 1st, 2006), the public should remind the investigation commissions that are currently examining the summer 2006 Hezbollah debacle with the fact that Barak campaigned for re-election as Prime Minister in February 2001 on a platform in which he was proud of the way in which he conducted a swift, unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, in a period of 48 hours, on May 21-22, 2000.
The public needs to ask these investigators to examine how Barak's lightning pullback meant that the Israel Defense Forces left significant intelligence equipment in the hands of the Hizbullah, how Bark's pullback abandoned Israel's prime source of intelligence in Southern Lebanon - the South Lebanon Army (SLA) - leaving the SLA at the mercy of the Hezbollah.
The public also needs to ask investigators as to why Barak ignored the
warnings of Bark's own deputy Minister of Defense, Dr. Ephraim Sneh, who
warned that any position abandoned by Israel would be used as strategic
positions by the Hezbollah to attack northern Israel.
In short, the public needs to ask the government as to whether Ehud Barak
deserves a cabinet position for his abandonment of strategic weapons,
equipment, allies and positions, only months after Hezbollah indeed used the Israeli equipment and Israeli positions that Barak gave them as launch pads to conduct massive lethal artillery attacks against Israel.
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