Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday visited the police station in Sderot that was demolished during a fierce battle with Hamas terrorists during the terror group’s Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel.
Gunmen stormed the building and barricaded themselves inside on that day, killing around 30 police officers and civilians. Israel Defense Forces troops surrounded the station, killing at least 10 Hamas terrorists before bulldozing the structure and eliminating the rest of the terrorists inside.
Netanyahu met at the site with police officers who participated in the battle, some of whom were wounded, to hear their stories. He also laid a wreath on the ruins in memory of the officers who fell during the battle.
The premier was accompanied by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel Police Inspector General Yaakov Shabtai, Israel Police Southern District Commander Amir Cohen, Sderot Police Commander Dvir Arubas and Prime Minister’s Office Director General Yossi Shelley.
“I am here with the national security minister, the inspector general and Amir and the heroic fighters who conducted an exemplary battle here, in which they lost comrades. The police [station] behind us was demolished and we are building a new one, but this attests to what happened here,” said Netanyahu.
“I heard the stories, the resourcefulness and the courage and mutual responsibility which is simply an example for the State of Israel. On behalf of the entire people of Israel and all citizens of Israel, I salute you; you are genuine heroes. Well done,” he continued.
“The people of Israel owe you a great debt. We appreciate the work of the police, and their sacrifice, and that of the Border Police. You fought as both individuals and groups in the worst possible conditions, and proved yourselves.
“On the day of the highest test, you met the challenge in an exemplary manner, and I truly say to you with all my heart, and that of the entire people, all citizens of Israel —you are heroes. Thank you very much.”
Also on Wednesday, Netanyahu participated in a cornerstone-laying ceremony for the community of Ofir in memory of the late Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council chairman Ofir Leibstein, who was killed by Hamas terrorists defending Kibbutz Kfar Aza on Oct. 7.
Tribute was also given to Leibstein’s 19-year-old son Nitzan, who was also killed that day in the Kfar Aza massacre.
Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf and local council heads participated in the cornerstone-laying ceremony.
“All of you endured very difficult days here. Friends were murdered. Leaders were murdered—men and women who fought, soldiers and police officers. It is simply unbelievable what happened here on the day of this ultimate test. The people of Israel hold onto our land by the fingernails, repelled the murderers, the monsters, and now we are in the midst of action that will continue to its end,” Netanyahu told the local council heads.
“We established a state, an army, communities and cities. We welcomed immigrants, but the battle continues as it has for 100 years and more. It most definitely continued here on that terrible day and we will overcome them.
“This construction expresses what we are now doing. Several months ago, we decided to establish a new community and called it ‘Hanun,’ and today we are changing its name to ‘Ofir’ after the late Ofir Leibstein, a leader, a man of the Land of Israel, a builder and a man engaged in settling the land. Here children will grow up and be educated about his contribution, heroism and sacrifice.
“We will continue to build, not one community but [many] communities, here in this place. We will build and we will continue to build, here and all throughout the Land of Israel. We will rebuild and expand the communities, and we will add more communities.”