A municipal leader in southern Israel resigned from the ruling Likud party on live TV on Wednesday, saying he was doing so over the lack of long-promised governmental assistance for residents of the area.
Tamir Idan is the head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, which abuts the Gaza Strip and surrounds the town of Netivot and includes 16 small communities such as Alumim, Kfar Maimon, Shuva, Shokeda and more.
Idan made the announcement on Channel 12, calling on other Likud members to do the same.
“I announce my resignation from the Likud party, and I place the blame on the Israeli government. I call here on all my friends, members of the Likud Central Committee, to take a similar step, in view of this incredible failure,” Idan said, reading from his resignation letter, which he said he would send to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The October 7 surprise cross-border assault by Hamas, which terrorized Gaza-adjacent communities and caught Israeli security forces unprepared, resulted in 1,400 Israeli deaths and some 240 citizens taken hostage. Israel declared war on Hamas the same evening, began a bombing campaign on Hamas and engaged in a massive call-up of reserve IDF forces. Recent days have seen troops enter Gaza and fight against the terror group on the ground.
Locales bordering Gaza and Lebanon, including small cities like Sderot and Kiryat Shemona, have been mostly evacuated, resulting in some 250,000 internally displaced citizens.
The government has been pilloried by evacuees who say that beyond the staggering security failure that led to the attack, it has not done enough to support the devastated communities since, both financially and socially.
During his interview Idan stressed that local government was doing all it could to help residents, many of whom have been evacuated from the area due to Home Front Command directives.
Temporary housing and other necessities had so far been provided from private donations and organizations, he said, but that money was running out, and despite his efforts to speak with numerous government officials and receiving promises of forthcoming aid, direct government assistance had yet to materialize.
Idan said not all residents in his area have been evacuated, but those that remain are living under the shadow of war and rocket fire. “The Israeli government just doesn’t understand the situation,” he said.
Idan had spoken with members of the Likud party, of which he is a long-time member, who had promised that aid would be forthcoming, and said he had been “certain” that this would happen, but it did not.
“Nothing happened,” he said, adding that he was finding himself unable to respond to all the personal messages he was receiving from residents asking for help.
The government’s intelligence failure in regards to preventing the Hamas assault, the slow response in providing aid and Netanyahu’s unwillingness to publicly take personal responsibility or blame for the sequence of events have left many Israelis bitter and angry at the government and the prime minister specifically.
Idan’s resignation comes several weeks into the war, at a time when some voices have begun calling for Netanyahu to resign his position. A recent political firestorm saw the prime minister tweet and then delete a post blaming Israeli intelligence services for the failure to anticipate the Hamas attack.