The prognosis is that Gaza missile attacks on the Western Negev will continue., and that they will only increase in their lethal ferocity – given confirmed news reports that Egypt has facilitated massive amount supplies of Hizbullah type weaponry to be deployed in Gaza.

Given such a scenario, the new Sderot Information and Media Center spent its first two months of operation assessing the needs of the population of Sderot that need to be addressed by the government, while forwarding these concerns to the attention of the Prime Minister of Israel.

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. The question was asked: Will the government allocate funds for these purposes?

While there are eighty shelters in Sderot, they are locked and not yet ready, and at least then ten of the shelters are without water and electricity. The question was asked: will the government prepare these shelters immediately, to cope with a Lebanon-type situation which may require the population to stay in these shelters for a considerable period of time?

While several hundred homes now have ‘safe rooms’ in which to escape to when the siren sounds, at least 800 homes in Sderot have no safe rooms in case of attack. The question was asked: Will the government allocate resources to build safe rooms contiguous to these homes?

While a 34 million shekel security protection budget was created for Sdeort, only 20% of that budget has allocated. The question was asked: When will the rest of the funds be allocated?

While the government has made every effort to protect some of the schools in Sderot from Gaza missiles, some of the Sderot schools have only been partially protected and others have not been protected at all. The question was asked: When will the government complete the protection of all schools in Sderot?

While Sderot is being fired on from teeming UNRWA camp in Jabalya, with some of those missiles fired from United Nations school yards, the question was asked: 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?

The Prime Minister’s office took time to relate to some of these questions, yet with answers that reflected a policy of willful neglect.

Concerning the need for enhanced mental health services in Sderot, a senior official of the Prime Minister’s office wrote that “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… “

Concerning the shelter situation in Sderot, the Prime Minister’s staffer wrote that “the ssue 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 your questions about the lack of shelters and the amount of budget used already – I have no information about it”.

Concerning the lack of protection for the schools of Sderot, the Prime Minister’s staffer wrote that “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”.

For whatever reason, the Prime Minister’s staffer did not relate to why there will be no increase in the Israel government allocations to reinforce the area with mental health professionals. He also chose not to relate to the question of why a trauma center will not be created. Given the emergency stress situation of an area under siege, if the government does not have the resources, he question remains as to whether the PM ask for resources from private corporations and/or from local or foreign philanthropies. While the PM’s staffer was correct to note that all decisions are made on the local level, he knows full well that allocations emanate from the national level, and that Ehud Olmert himself serves as the Minister of Social Welfare, where all such decisions are made.

Following up on the claim that “professionals” made the decisions concerning the current partial protection policies, no professional staffer in the Israel Ministry of Education nor the local Sderot department of education was ready to say that he advised the government to leave some schools partially protected and to leave other schools with no protection whatsoever.. What the Ministry of Education and the local Sderot department of education state on the record is that they simply have no more budget to protect their schools, which begs the question as to why Prime Minister Olmert will not initiate an effort to raise ALL funds necessary 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, it is baffling that the Prime Minister of Israel is not launching a campaign to seek resources from private corporations and/or from local or foreign philanthropies to protect schools now under fire.

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all concerns the answer that the Prime Minister’s staffer provided concerning the shelter situation in Sderot. Following the Prime Minister’s referral of the shelter question to the Israel Ministry of Interior, that ministry referred the question of ill-prepared shelters to the Israel Civil Defence Command, known in Hebrew as the “PIKUD HAOREF”, which will not provide an 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 for long periods of time.

In sum, the office of the Prime Minister of Israel has stated in writing that it will not commit itself to provide further any further protection for schools in Sderot, that it will not take any responsibility to prepare shelters in Sderot, and that it will not enhance the mental health services for a city of 20,000 under daily bombardment that is only expected to only get worse.

Last week, a group of third graders in a school in Sderot asked to return to their second grade class. Why? Because their second grade classroom is protected, and the third grade classroom is not protected.

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will appear at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations in Los Angeles. Representatives of the the Jewish communities throughout North America may want to ask him why he is not protecting the third graders of Sderot. and why he will not assure the people of Sderot that the government will do everything in its power to protect every resident there, whether funds come from the Israel government budget, from generous Israeli corporations, or from sources in Diaspora philanthropy.

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.