January 9, 2024 | Flash Brief

Return of Israeli Residents of Sderot Planned

January 9, 2024 | Flash Brief

Return of Israeli Residents of Sderot Planned

Latest Developments

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on January 7 that residents and students from the southern Israeli city of Sderot can return home on February 4. Israel evacuated the city’s nearly 30,000 residents — along with residents in surrounding areas — shortly after Hamas’s rampage on October 7 but before Israeli forces launched ground operations inside the Gaza Strip on October 27. Netanyahu added that residents of nearby communities, including Gevim, Ibim, and other towns located east of Route 232, would also be allowed to return to their homes.

Hamas terrorists launched rockets into southern Israel on the same day as Netanyahu’s statement, activating sirens in Sderot and surrounding areas. The Times of Israel reported Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi saying that the evacuated residents would not return unless the Israeli government meets specific conditions for the community’s security.

Expert Analysis

“While some are eager to return to their communities in the Gaza periphery region, others are hesitant. October 7 is seared in the psyche of every Israeli. The devastating attack deeply shook Israelis’ trust in the government’s ability to protect them. The government of Israel must regain the trust of the people in order for these families and communities to return to the border region. It will be an unprecedented test for the Jewish state.” Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“The Hamas massacre of Israelis on October 7 was an unprecedented terrorist attack and has left enduring trauma and destruction in dozens of communities along the border. The defeat of Hamas is essential to degrading the terrorist group’s ability to threaten Israelis and destabilize the region. Hamas terrorist infrastructure should be uprooted in Gaza to bring security to Israelis living near Gaza and enable their return.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Israel Enters New Phase of the War

Netanyahu’s announcement came a day before Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told The New York Times that Israel’s ground operation in Gaza had shifted to a smaller-scale campaign involving fewer troops and airstrikes. Hagari said on January 6 that Israeli forces had dismantled Hamas’s military capabilities in northern Gaza — the closest area to Sderot — where Hamas once concentrated half of its forces. The city’s proximity to the Gaza Strip allows residents only 15 seconds to seek shelter from rockets launched from Gaza.

Sderot Mayor’s Security Demands

In response to Netanyahu, Davidi released an 11-point list of conditions the government must meet before the city’s residents return. Davidi’s list calls for a total depopulation of the northern Gaza Strip. It also requires the government to continue compensating evacuees for alternative accommodations until the end of June. Evacuated adults currently receive 200 shekels ($54) and children receive 100 shekels ($27) per day from the government.

Sderot Targeted in Hamas Massacre

Sderot was a significant target of Hamas terrorists during the October 7 massacre. Some 200 terrorists killed at least 50 civilians, including a group of seniors at a bus station and 20 police officers at a police station. The IDF eventually bulldozed the police station with the terrorists remaining inside.

IDF Dismantles Hamas in Northern Gaza, Three Months into the Gaza War,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli Defense Minister Presents Plan for ‘Day After’ in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Shifts To ‘Third Phase’ Of Gaza War,” FDD Flash Brief

The city of Sderot on the eve of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire,” by Seth J. Frantzman


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