As Israel’s airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip drag into their second week, the Jewish Agency for Israel is claiming credit for doing its part to ensure that casualties on the Israeli side of the conflict remain a rarity. In an email to supporters, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky noted that while most of the Hamas rockets fired into Israel have landed in the border town of Sderot, the 5,000 safe rooms constructed by JAFI company Amigour have so far been 100 percent successful.
“In recent days, the Amigour-constructed safe rooms have gone through a literal trial by fire,” reported Sharansky. “In one case, at the start of the current operation, a mother and daughter … made it to their safe room, which is also the daughter’s bedroom, just before a rocket hit their apartment. They were so well protected that they did not initially realize that their home had been hit.”
Sharansky went on to comment that when he served as minister of construction and housing, “it was extremely difficult to attract residents to Sderot,” because of its being the target of choice for Hamas rocket crews. “Today, there is not a single empty apartment in Sderot, and apartment prices have gone up dramatically — in some cases, by as much as 300 percent. The government is now planning to expand the construction of safe rooms to other communities and towns in the region.”
The Jewish Agency, which is supported by the Jewish Federations of North America, has contributed $13 million to the fortification program. The Israeli government has pledged $67 million.