Marking a year since Operation Protective Edge, President Rivlin conducts a security and civilian tour of the area around the Gaza Strip
A year on from Operation Protective Edge, President Reuven Rivlin this morning, (Thursday), conducted a tour of the Eshkol Region near the Gaza Strip, where he was greeted by new regional authority head, Gadi Yarkoni.
Visiting nearby Kibbutzim of Nir Oz and Nirim, the President received a security update from Col. Eyal Rozen, of the Southern Front Command. The President began by speaking with reference to Abraham Mengistu, who was being held in Gaza, as was today cleared for publication. He said, "This is a painful situation which I, together with the relevant officials at the President's Office, have been following closely since it began. I am in contact with the Mengistu family and I know that all the relevant authorities have been working tirelessly, and monitoring the issue closely, from the moment Avraham crossed over the fence. This is a humanitarian issue, and we expect those holding him to behave accordingly and return him in good health. According to the information which has arisen, Mengistu is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We will continue to make every effort in order to bring an end to this incident, as soon as possible."
The President went on to speak about the year that had passed since Operation Protective Edge. He said, "A year has passed and I am very pleased to be here as the guns have been silenced, and tranquility has returned to encompass the area. I came here - as I have on several occasions this year - to see the way in which the area has returned to daily routine, and to see up close the necessary rebuilding and rehabilitation. I have no doubt that at any moment in which the quiet is violated, the IDF knows how to return calm swiftly to the people of the region, and enable them to return to their daily lives. It is also well understood by those in Gaza, that peace and quiet for the citizens there, means first of all, the peace and quiet for the Israelis in this region and all the citizens of Israel."
Later, the President spoke with the agricultural manager of Kibbutz Nir Oz, David Moshe, who explained to the President about their development and cultivation projects in the area close to the Gaza border, and spoke about the danger of being exposed to snipers. The President was moved to hear of the thriving agricultural successes, and said, "I am seeing here today the most important achievements of last year's operation. The south is thriving, and new families are coming to make their homes in the western Negev. The south is a place of tourism and development. I am proud to be here once again, and meet with those special people who epitomize the area and communities near the Gaza Strip. The residents of this region are a power of strength and resilience for all Israel, and it is a true honor to be with you today."
The President concluded his tour by visiting Shorashim flower and vegetable nursery in Ein HaBesor, which suffered a direct hit by a missile fired from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. The President toured the nursery and spoke about the various plants and vegetables being grown, and discussed the process of rebuilding since the operation.
Photo : President Reuven Rivlin during a visit to the northern border on May 27, 2015. (Mark Neyman/GPO)