The leaders of southern Israeli communities bordering Hamas-controlled Gaza have issued an invitation for US Vice President Joe Biden to visit during his upcoming trip to Israel.
Biden will arrive in Israel tomorrow (Tuesday), in what will likely be the final high-level Obama administration official to visit the Jewish state.
He will shuttle between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, holding talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, among other top Israeli officials, on issues including defense aid, the ongoing wave of Arab terror and the conflict in neighboring Syria.
But the heads of the Sha’ar Hanegev, Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon, and Sdot Negev Regional Councils have invited Biden and his wife to take a detour through Israel's Negev Desert, and witness the challenges and resilience exhibited by Israeli civilians living under constant threat of Palestinian rocket attacks.
"As you know, Israeli towns, kibbutzim and villages close to the Gaza border have for some time absorbed the brunt of violence directed towards Israeli civilians from extremist forces within Palestinian society. We have paid a heavy price, both in lives and quality of life, during periods of conflict," council heads Alon Schuster, Gadi Yarkoni, Yair Farjun and Tamir Idan wrote in a joint letter to Biden Monday.
"Even today, during quieter times, our residents know that it is only a matter of time before they will find themselves, once again, eating and sleeping in bomb shelters. They are fully aware that they will provide the first pool of victims for armed terrorists creeping out of tunnels under their homes with the intent to wreak havoc.
"Despite these conditions – and perhaps also in response to them – we can boast vibrant communities that continue to flourish. Our children grow up in open spaces, green fields and breathe fresh air that our neighbors around the country can only dream of. Our region is home to a plethora of agricultural success stories and economic wonders."
The regional heads went on to praise the United States government for its continued military aid to the State of Israel – including tens of millions of dollars towards the Iron Dome missile defense system, which has saved countless Israeli lives.
"Many of these achievements are possible due to the generous support of our American friends, who share the same values that we Israelis hold as crucial to the existence of our democracies. It is in this spirit that we would like to express our gratitude to the US Administration, which has remained steadfast in its commitment to keeping Israel strong in the face of the threats at large," the letter reads.
"In celebration of the bond between our countries, we would like to invite you to visit us during your upcoming trip to Israel while the gorgeous red anemones are flowering in the Northern Negev. We are eager to give you a taste of the wonderful developments occurring down south and would be privileged to host you and your family so you may see them firsthand."
It is not known whether Biden will be taking up the offer.