Two days ago, the heads of the southern municipalities held an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about the security escalations. I told Netanyahu clearly: "We expect you to stop this horrific phenomenon that murderous villains across the fence set our daily agenda. We ask that you forcefully and decisively protect the south."
Netanyahu answered: "Anyone who thinks he can harm the daily lives of residents in the south and not pay the price for it is mistaken. I, the prime minister, am responsible for choosing the right time to charge the highest price. And so be it. The state will not stand by while terrorist organizations do as they please in the Gaza Strip and fire on [Israeli] citizens."
I am writing these words about an hour after the start of Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. I want to acknowledge formally that the prime minister has kept his word, which is no less important than restoring the Israel Defense Forces’ plan of deterrence. Most importantly, he has restored for us, residents of the south and the area around Gaza, a sense of security, protection and quiet from terrorist attacks.
I have no doubt that we are all filled with satisfaction and pride that the IDF and the government have taken back the reins and that they will go to war to eliminate the Gaza terror. We deserve to live in peace and tranquility. Our children have the right to grow and develop as other children in the world do, without fear and anxiety. I was delighted, as a citizen of this country and as the head of a municipality, that we are realizing our right to self-defense, as expressed in the Talmudic saying: "If somebody comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first" (Sanhedrin 72a). These murderers don't stop for even one day to seek an opportunity to kill us. Now was the time for a response.
At this point, we don't know what the scope of this operation will be. I would love to see the heads and hands of these murderers taken down, never to rise up against us and our children again, neither today nor tomorrow. We are a peaceful people, seeking to live our lives in peace; I believe that the residents of the Gaza Strip also want the same. But terrorist organizations, whose hands are stained with so much blood, simply deny them their right to a quiet life.
We, the mayors and residents of the south, are ready for such an operation. We are prepared and organized for this so long as we attain the quiet that we seek after 13 years of terrorist rockets. More than anything, I feared losing the IDF's ability to enforce deterrence. Now, after Jabari's assassination and the aftermath, we know that the IDF will not abandon us.
David Buskila is the mayor of Sderot.