Billionaire picks up where government failed

Sunday, May 20, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli-Russian billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak has offered to construct safe rooms in 1,300 houses in the hard-hit southern town of Sderot, something the government of Israel promised to do two years ago.

When Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, and the Palestinians promptly thanked the Jewish state by lobbing salvo after salvo of rockets at Sderot and surrounding communities, the government quickly approved funding for the fortification of schools and vulnerable housing structures.

But the money never materialized, and out of the 25,000 residents of Sderot, a mere 250 families today have fortified rooms in their homes.

The massive Palestinian rocket barrage on Sderot over the past five days has again brought the problem to light, as most residents simply have no where to hide when the town's early warning system sounds.

Enter Arcadi Gaydamak, who has already made a name for himself busing beleaguered Sderot residents out of town for much needed breaks from the violence.

Now Gaydamak is ready to spend $60 million to build many of the fortifications the government has failed to provide its citizens. And he promises the work will be done in only four months.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who has been a very vocal critic of the government's failure to defend the town, told The Jerusalem Post that unless the government delivers on its original promises immediately, he is ready to accept the billionaire's proposal.

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