Sderot Bombed Again: The Reality Of Southern Israel

UPDATE 10 am Israel time Monday:

At 8:29, an hour and a half ago, another Qassam missile fired from Palestinian terrorists in Gaza struck at the communities of southern Israel near the Gaza border.

Approximately 100 international, self-proclaimed “human rights activists” were denied entry into Israel at the Allenby Bridge Crossing from Jordan last night.

Some of the European "activists" who had been bused to the Allenby Crossing yesterday pose for a photo-op. Their passports were all stamped "Denied Entry" by Israeli officials who ordered them back onto their buses and back to Amman.


Six Qassam rockets struck Sderot and Sha’ar Hanegev yesterday.

The first four rockets landed at around 9:30 am in the morning with the terrorists scoring direct hits on two different buildings in the Sderot Industrial zone and one hit on a Sderot residential neighborhood.

The partial remains of a Qassam rocket on a residential sidewalk in Sderot yesterday--some distance from where it impacted and exploded (photo: Sderot Media Center).

Contrary to reports in the mainstream media, one person was physically injured in one of the buildings, and at least one person was rushed to the hospital suffering from severe trauma. The fundamentalist Salafi terrorist group Jamiat ul-Mujahedin Bayt al-Maqdis–an Al Qaeda and Hamas affiliate–claimed responsibility.

In the last 60 days, since the last “ceasefire” on June 26th, 264 Palestinian rockets and mortars  (an average of 4.39 per day) have assaulted the children, women, and men of southern Israeli communities stretching from Ashkelon to Sderot.

It so happened that Israel opposition leader and head of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, was in Ashkelon yesterday when the morning volley struck Sderot.  Like every other Israeli politician, Mofaz lives between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and drops down to visit southern Israel once in a blue moon.

His comments yesterday, the same that every other politician would makeillustrate yet again, the total disconnect of most Israelis from the reality of life here in southern Israel.

First, Mofaz said that the morning volley of rockets was directly attributable to the fact that the Israeli school year begins today and that “the terrorist organizations from Gaza, led by Hamas [are] checking us. I will pass a message on to the heads of Hamas – the blood is on your hands if you touch a hair on our children’s heads.”

Thank you Shaul for such unadulterated claptrap. Where have you and every other Israeli politician been as the rockets and mortars have been raining down on the head of every child in southern Israel for years? Where will you be tomorrow when more rockets and mortars fall?

Sderot's children are always under attack: schools and playgrounds (such as the one in the photo taken yesterday) always have bomb shelters and protected places in case the warning sirens go off (photo: Sderot Media Center).

Mofaz continued with a paean to the Iron Dome system which he said “will win Israel’s security.”  He then proceeded to praise its developers noting that they are all scheduled to receive an award from the Ministry of Defense in September.

What Mofaz did not comment on was exactly where the Iron Dome system was yesterday.

The fact is that there are only 4 Iron Dome systems in Israel. We know from news reports that one is now in Eilat, one is in Tzfat, and one is in Ashkelon, but where is the other one? Beersheva? Ashdod? Wherever it is, it is not in the place where it is needed the most–the communities near the Gaza border.

What Mofaz also did not comment on was the notable failure of the Iron Dome in Ashkelon earlier in the year. When confronted with multiple, continuous launches from Gaza, the Iron Dome’s radar system became confused–and terrorist rockets struck the city.

More than this, Mofaz had nothing to say about the possibility of an all-out attack on Hamas to stop the rocket fire because nobody ever talks about this anymore. The simple fact is that Israel and the IDF are perfectly happy to let Egypt and the international community dictate to us what we can and cannot do in Gaza–and to let the Iron Dome system intercept whatever missiles it can.

Finally, Mofaz, like every other Israeli politician, had nothing to say about the unending emotional toll exacted on citizens of the south as they run to their bomb shelters–Iron Dome system or not– every morning, noon, evening, and night. Remember the person treated for shock yesterday–that person is just one of thousands of southern Israelis suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

I would like to close today with a Facebook posting made several months ago by an American girl serving in an elite IDF paratrooper unit. Her words should be mandatory reading for every politician from PM Netanyahu to Shaul Mofaz–and for every Israeli living in central and northern Israel. At least she can understand what we in southern Israel feel:

The American Girl in the Bunker

Talia Lefkowitz (reprinted in Tablet Magazine) June 29, 2012

My Facebook page is covered with photos and posts about the latest round of missile attacks launched into southern Israel from Gaza. “Fifty Rockets Hit Israel In the Last Three Days” the photo caption reads. The comments below the photo range from sanctimonious pro-Israel sentiment and prayers for the Jewish state to angry rants against Israeli arrogance and calls for a Palestinian state in the West Bank.

It’s a bit surreal to be reading these posts as I sit in a shelter with those very rockets shrieking overhead. I am a volunteer IDF soldier from New York City serving in an elite paratroopers unit. I am the only girl in a unit with 85 combat soldiers. Over the past year, we have served all over the country. Now we are based on the border of Gaza and Sinai, and things have started to get hairy.

The rocket attacks always stop at some point. I know there will eventually be a temporary ceasefire, and life on base will go back to normal. I’m surprised, frankly, that the current attacks even made it onto Facebook, because outside of Israel, no one seems to think they’re newsworthy, much less an act of war. No big deal, right?

It doesn’t feel that way inside the bunker. When you are on the other end of these rockets—hearing their high-pitched squeal as they fly past, feeling the room shake as they hit ground, and smelling the acrid smoke plumes that rise from the craters—it feels like war.

Our rooms on the base are similar to a caravan. The walls are thin, and the ceiling is just weak metal. Our beds are made of thin pieces of steel, and the mattress is a smelly egg-crate that has probably been slept on for over 20 years. When soldiers are not on missions, they are doing exactly what the movies portray: playing cards, smoking cigarettes, lifting dumbbells, making coffee on a little gas stove. Three days ago we were just minding our business when we heard a huge explosion that literally shook the ground. I know the floor moved because our coffee spilled.

I didn’t think it could be a rocket or bomb because the warning siren, the tzeva adom, had not sounded. We all ran out to see what the noise was all about, and in the distance, maybe 2 kilometers away, we could see the telltale plume of smoke.

Seconds later, the siren rang and we all ran to the nearest shelter. The shelter is windowless. The room is built to hold 30 people, but somehow we managed to squeeze 70 inside. Luckily there was air conditioning, but it leaked everywhere and no matter where we sat, our bodies were splattered. People were pushing themselves up against the bunker walls to make room for the latecomers. In this chaos, it was my job to get a head count of my whole unit and make sure everyone had made it.

After three hours, we were told by the head of the base’s intelligence that it was safe to leave. It wasn’t for long, though. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Three more rockets fell minutes later, this time even closer to us. The tzeva adom rang, but there was no time to find safety. Two seconds after the siren’s scream we felt the earth shake beneath our feet. We were totally vulnerable.

The nights are hell. I cannot sleep. I lie in bed, fully clothed, boots and helmet on, waiting to hear the alarm, waiting to dash out of the room to safety.

Hours go by without a rocket, and I start to relax. Maybe it’s over. The media, even the Israeli newspapers, are saying that it is no big deal. I start to believe them. But then another bomb hits without warning, and this one falls just feet from us. It’s like an earthquake. The room sways, and I fall out of my bed. The next few minutes seem to move in slow motion. Screaming, frenzy, smoke. Everyone running. Hands covering their ears. Wiping their eyes. Holding tissues over their mouths and noses.

As I run, trying to get to safety, I flash back to my family’s apartment in Manhattan, or to the house in which I grew up in Maryland. It’s inconceivable to me that something like this could happen there. There would be shock, outrage, even international condemnation. Or maybe such a massive American response that the rocket attacks would finally stop—forever. Instead, I am sure tomorrow’s Facebook page will be filled with more criticism of Israel and more justification for the attacks.

I am a New York City girl who came to Israel to defend the Jewish state. I am proud of my service and of all the remarkable young men I have met who risk their lives every day to keep this country safe. I am the girl in the bunker, and I can tell you that these rocket attacks are a big deal.”

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