Leaders of Israeli towns on the border of the Gaza Strip wrote an open letter inviting Vice President Joe Biden, who is beginning a two-day trip to Israel Tuesday, to visit their communities.
The heads of the Sha’ar Hanegev, Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon and Sdot Negev regional councils pointed out that their proximity to Gaza, which is controlled by the Iran-backed terror organization Hamas, has meant that they have “absorbed the brunt of violence directed towards Israeli civilians from extremist forces within Palestinian society. We have paid a heavy price, both in lives and quality of life, during periods of conflict.”
Even today, during quieter times, our residents know that it is only a matter of time before they will find themselves, once again, eating and sleeping in bomb shelters. They are fully aware that they will provide the first pool of victims for armed terrorists creeping out of tunnels under their homes with the intent to wreak havoc.
Despite these conditions — and perhaps also in response to them — we can boast vibrant communities that continue to flourish. Our children grow up in open spaces, green fields and breathe fresh air that our neighbors around the country can only dream of. Our region is home to a plethora of agricultural success stories and economic wonders.
Many of these achievements are possible due to the generous support of our American friends, who share the same values that we Israelis hold as crucial to the existence of our democracies. It is in this spirit that we would like to express our gratitude to the US Administration, which has remained steadfast in its commitment to keeping Israel strong in the face of the threats at large.
In celebration of the bond between our countries, we would like to invite you to visit us during your upcoming trip to Israel while the gorgeous red anemones are flowering in the Northern Negev. We are eager to give you a taste of the wonderful developments occurring down south and would be privileged to host you and your family so you may see them firsthand.
In a meeting with residents of communities bordering Gaza last month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power heard stories about what it was like to live under the continual threat of rocket fire and attacks launched from terror tunnels. Power assured the Israelis she met with that the United States “will always stand with Israel. We will always stand for your security and for your legitimacy in the UN.”
In 2012, following Operation Pillar of Defense, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro visited the Eshkol Regional Council and expressed the U.S.’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself. Shapiro’s visit is captured in the video embedded below.
[Photo: Hadas Parush / Flash90 ]