Only hours after families in the southern community of Nahal Oz unanimously decided to depart from the area until further notice for fear of rocket attacks, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich on Saturday advised civilians in towns near the Gaza Strip to leave their homes and travel up north for a while to “take a break” from the constant barrages fired by Hamas.
During a visit to towns in the south, Aharonovich told reporters that the IDF may be forced to continue its operations in the Palestinian enclave for quite some time, adding that the Israeli public must be prepared to deal with the consequences of such a scenario.
“We need to strike [Hamas] down, and there is much work yet,” he said, according to Ynet. “The IDF has dealt a blow to Hamas but [the people of Israel] need to be patient.”
The public security minister stressed that Israel must not accept a situation in which it is engaged in a war of attrition with Hamas.
“Not everything has an immediate solution, [but] if we must, we will deal [Hamas] a defeat,” he said. “Maybe that’s what will finally bring quiet.”
The few families who stayed behind in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just two kilometers from the Gaza border, throughout Operation Protective Edge left on Saturday, a day after four-year-old Daniel Tragerman was killed when a mortar shell landed outside his home in a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Region. Of the nearly 360 members of Nahal Oz, only about 90 people, almost all of them kibbutz employees, remained in the community after Saturday afternoon, Ynet reported.
In nearby Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, families with young children and the elderly have all left as well.
The residents of Nahal Oz have criticized the government for what they deemed to be insufficient action in order to ensure their safety, even a month and a half after the operation began.
“We are disappointed that the reality on the ground has not changed,” the residents said in a statement.
“The [government] instruction to return to our homes does not correspond with the reality since the rockets and mortars are still being fired. We live with a great degree of uncertainty,” Kibbutz spokeswoman Yenina Barnea wrote.
Earlier this month, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz urged the residents of the Gaza border towns to return to their communities.
“I am convinced the residents can return to their houses, till their fields, live well here, just as it was before,” he said.
“Just as there was peace here before, it will be even quieter after [the operation],” Gantz asserted. “The IDF is not going anywhere. It remains to protect, to make breakthroughs, to seek the next challenges, and together with the citizens we will continue to enhance the security in this area.”
The IDF chief went on to assure the citizens of the south that better days were ahead of them.
“Indeed, there was a hot summer here,” Gantz said, referring to the tumultuous experiences of many in the south. “[But] autumn will come after. Rain will wash away the dust upon the tanks. The fields will turn green, and the south will redden, red in the positive sense of the word, anemones, flowers and stability will be here, and they will be here for very many years to come.”