TEL AVIV (Sep. 3)
More than 1500 people, virtually the entire population of tiny Mitzpeh Rimon township in the central Negev, went on a hunger strike today to protest alleged government neglect which they say threatens the town with continuing decay and isolation. The townspeople rejected a last minute appeal by Premier Yitzhak Rabin to call of their demonstration. All shops, businesses and schools were shut down for the day.
The main complaint of the Mitzpeh Rimon citizens is that the government has failed to supply adequate housing, urban development and proper roads. But the town’s problems apparently stem from other causes as well.
Established in the early 1950s, Mitzpeh Rimon prospered at first as a midpoint on the road between Beersheba and Eilat. But the highway was shifted eastward to pass through the Arabs district, one of Israel’s new development areas. Scarcely a car now passes through Mitzpeh Rimon. There is no new industry, no workshops and little hope for the future. The town’s young people are leaving the place. This morning, the hunger strikers set up a road block on the main road to dramatize their protest. By evening, not a single car had come by.