At a ceremony Thursday marking the completion of a two-year fortification project in Sderot, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured residents Israel can achieve deterrence.
As Israel’s closest city to the Gaza border, Sderot has borne the brunt of Hamas rocket fire, giving rise to nicknames such as “rocket town” and “the bomb shelter capital of the world.”
The 1.3 billion shekel project put bomb shelters in homes that were without them.
“The project to fortify homes in Gaza-vicinity communities provided 9 square meter bomb shelters for 10,140 housing units that previously had no shelters. Residents there generally have 15 seconds to take shelter from an incoming rocket, missile or mortar shell.
Netanyahu said the past two years have been the quietest in a decade.
“See, while we cannot shape the strategic environment in which we live, we do have possibility of achieving deterrence against our enemies and, to the extent that it proves necessary, to inflict significant damage on the infrastructures of terror,” Netanyahu said.
“Our policy is to respond vigorously to any violation – no matter how small – of the calm … and make it clear to those on the other side that the rules of the game have changed,” he continued.
“Quiet here equals quiet in Gaza,” the prime minister continued. “Attacking us will lead to ruin and destruction for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and whoever tries to attack us from the other side of the fence. We will respond in strength to any attempt to attack our communities and our citizens.”
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi told participants the city has flourished in the two years since Operation Cast Lead, the IDF’s 2014 military incursion into Gaza to deter rocket fire and uncover infiltration tunnels built under Israel’s border.
Davidi said the city is in the midst of a construction boom that includes new kindergartens and day care centers, neighborhoods, fortified playgrounds with bomb shelters and city parks.
The IDF has carried out three military operations in the Gaza Strip — since it pulled out in 2005 — beginning in 2008 with Operation Cast Lead, followed by Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.