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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gaidamak Offers Free Getaway

SDEROT, Israel -- Residents of the southern Israeli town of Sderot elbowed and shoved their way onto a fleet of buses Thursday, taking advantage of a free weekend away from the shadow of Palestinian rockets, compliments of controversial Israeli-Russian billionaire Arkady Gaidamak.

About 800 people from the impoverished town, where a woman was killed and a youth gravely injured by rocket fire the day before, flocked to the town hall and a local community center to sign up for the free ride and hotel accommodation in the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

Gaidamak, owner of Moskovskiye Novosti and several soccer teams in Israel and Britain, funded a similar exodus of Israelis from the northern border region when rockets fired by Lebanese guerrillas slammed into their towns this summer.

Local resident Galit Massad said she heard about the Gaidamak offer Thursday morning and jumped at the opportunity for a break from the constant wail of air raid sirens and ambulances.

"We just packed our stuff and ran away," she said. "It's too dangerous here now, people are dying."

Massad said getting out of town was only a temporary measure, however.

"It's not a solution," she said. "To leave Sderot now for the weekend is a very quick getaway."