(Communicated by the Office of the President)
Following the recent events in southern Israel and the crisis facing the citizens in the region, President Shimon Peres, today (Wednesday, 14 November 2012), visited Sderot and one of its local schools. He was accompanied by Mayor David Bouskila, the heads of the Gaza area regional councils and senior IDF Home Front Command officers. President Peres met with schoolchildren, was given a situation update by military sources and, at the request of the children, entered a bomb shelter in the school and sat on the floor to speak with them about their feelings, fears and the difficult situation they face living under rocket fire in Sderot.
At the start of his visit, Chen Malkiel, a fourth grade student at the school, greeted President Peres and described the day to day life of the children in Sderot. Chen told the President that, "We were born and were defined as 'code red' children. We are children who live in fear and anxiety that at any moment we will hear the code red siren, have to leave our games, our friends and enter the safe rooms, four walls, without windows which are really horrible." Chen thanked the president for coming and said, "thank you for coming. Our eyes are on you as well Mr. President, hoping that you will do something so that it will be peaceful, calm, secure and fun." When she finished speaking Chen took the president, hand-in-hand, to show him the bomb shelter in the school.
President Peres said to the children, "I am here as a grandfather who feels the pain of the mothers who can't sleep quietly at night. You should know that you are a source of strength and courage for all the people of Israel. All the children in Israel are proud of you. You are brave children who live in an abnormal reality. I know how hard it is not to sleep at night, how hard it is for your mothers and how much you want to lead a normal life. The State of Israel must listen to the children in this region and protect them." President Peres emphasized that the residents of the south must be treated equally and even given preference and that shelters for all the residents must be completed without any delay.
At the end of the visit President Peres conducted a press briefing and said, "Hamas is solely responsible for this intolerable situation of rocket fire at Israel. Hamas should control all the other organizations operating under its nose with its tacit approval. We must cease the constant flow of funds to Gaza, funds which are channeled directly to rockets and terror. The countries of the world that in their self-righteousness transfer funds to Gaza, led by the Emir of Qatar, cannot continue to do so. The world must see the reality that money in Gaza equals terror."