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October 11, 2012 1:42 am

Southern Israel: Living with Rockets, Miracles, and the Iron Dome (PHOTOS)

avatar by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

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Netivot home directly hit in Grad Rocket Attack two weeks ago. Photo: Daniel Hagbi, Sderot Media Center.

Days and nights in southern Israel have been punctuated by a growing number of sirens and rocket explosions, with over 60 rockets striking Israeli cities and communities this past week. On Monday morning alone, 55 Qassam and mortar shells were fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The rocket strikes damaged buildings, properties and a kibbutz petting zoo that is usually filled with children, but was empty because of the early morning hour.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the rocket strikes, which followed an Israeli Air Force airstrike on Sunday that targeted global jihad terrorists operating in Gaza.

For residents in Netivot, Sderot and the Gaza-border communities, the rocket routine is not a new one.

On Tuesday night, three rockets were fired, with one towards the city of Netivot and the others landing near Sderot, which has been the target of rocket attacks for nearly 12 years. Speaking with Tazpit News Agency on Wednesday, Netivot resident, Elisheva Ratzon described the panic she experienced the previous night.

“I was on the computer, reading on the news that a rocket had struck Sderot earlier, when all of the sudden, the rocket siren for Netivot went off,” said Ratzon. “It was about 10:30 at night and the rocket struck just as I ran into the shelter in my apartment. There was an extremely loud boom. “

Rocket in Netivot open area. Photo: Daniel Hagbi, Sderot Media Center.

Sitting at her computer in her office where she works as an accountant, Ratzon explains that she still experiences great panic every time a rocket strikes her city. “It’s a difficult experience, but even more so when my grandchildren come for a visit.  Then I get even more nervous. This situation is especially tough for families with young children.”

The desert city of Netivot is home to over 27,000 residents and is located approximately 14 kilometers (9 miles) away from Gaza. Although there were no casualties or damages from Tuesday night’s rocket attack, a Netivot home was severely damaged in a direct Grad rocket attack two weeks earlier on September, and was miraculously empty at the time.  Another home was also damaged.

Over 500 rockets have been fired at Israel since the start of 2012.

“Life is not easy here,” says Daniel, Ratzon’s nephew, who is a student at a religious boys’ seminary (yeshiva) in Sderot. “If we didn’t have the Iron Dome in place, to shoot down the Grad rockets targeting larger cities, like Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beer Sheva, the situation would be much, much worse.”

“Right now we are living on prayers, miracles and the Iron Dome,” he said.

Eshkol kibbutz's children petting zoo hit by rocket from northern Gaza, on Monday, October 8. Photo: Eshkol Regional Council.

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  • Ron Holzwarth

    I sometimes wonder what would happen if instead of coming from the Gaza Strip, rockets and mortars were being fired from Tijuana, and were landing in San Diego, California.

    It’s a perfect analogy. Because the Mexican-American war (1846-1848) was fought only for territory. As a result of the war, Mexico lost California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and parts of several other current US states.

    But for some obscure reason, Americans and Mexicans prefer peace over war. I wonder if Arabs ever will. From the historical examples over the last 1,000 years, the answer is: No.

    But there is a solution! And it is twofold:
    1) Education.
    2) Tolerance.

    • alexa

      Don’t wonder too much . just look at how Turkey respond when a mortar was shot at it from Syria.

  • Take a trip with me to Sderot town.
    It’s a bright sunny day, then the red warning sounds
    Then it’s hell come to earth as the rockets rain down
    Just a typical day in Sderot town.

    Just a stone’s throw away from the Gaza Strip
    And the people living there, well hatred’s their trip
    They aim their rockets to the east and then let them all rip
    Into Sderot town, from the Gaza Strip.

    Tell me how much more innocent blood must run?
    How many more parents mourning daughters and sons?
    Till war will be over and killing all done
    Tell me how much innocent blood must run?

    It’s an upside down world, it’s a world with no shame
    Kassams fired from schools, and it’s the Jews who are blamed
    Judges pound on their gavels, “war crimes” they proclaim
    It’s an upside down world, it’s a world with no shame.