Sderot Residents Share Frustration, Resilience Amid Palestinian Rocket Fire: ‘We Are Here to Stay’
The recent salvo of Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli civilians has drawn renewed attention to the plight of Sderot, a city that neighbors the Gaza Strip and often bears the brunt of its attacks.
A family home in Sderot was struck on Saturday by a rocket launched from Gaza, where the Israeli military is carrying out a targeted campaign against Palestinian Islamic Jihad, amid threats from the US-designated terrorist group that it would retaliate for the arrest of two of its members.
The rocket tore through the roof of family’s home, directly hitting the laundry room. The family managed to evacuate to safety seconds before the strike.
“We heard Red Alert” — Israel’s early-warning siren for Palestinian rocket attacks — “me, my wife, and the children, and we ran to the fortified shelter,” recounted the home’s owner, Baruch Reberger, in a television interview. “Within six or seven seconds there was a big boom, I was certain it was inside my house.”
“After we exited [the shelter], we saw the whole house enveloped in smoke, the ceiling caved in. But thank God that nothing happened to anyone.”
He told Ynet that while he is “unfortunately already used to this,” his family was struggling.
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“These are difficult feelings, my daughter is eight years old and my son is three years old, and they already suffer from anxiety,” he explained. “My wife totally — let’s not talk about it. The damage is very significant.”
His wife, Hufit, recalled thinking “there was a hit on the house.”
“I emerged from the shelter and my eyes went dark,” she said. “My whole kitchen is gone, this whole situation is just horrifying.”
“I did not grow up in Sderot, but what people experience here is simply horrifying. Something must be done,” she urged. “What if something had happened? If the kids would’ve been taken from me? I experience this already 10 years all the time, since I came from [central Israel].”
Some families chose to temporarily evacuate Sderot on Sunday, boarding buses to Haifa with the help of soldiers from Israel’s Home Front Command.
“We didn’t sleep all night, we don’t leave the fortified shelter at all,” Rita Giladov, one of the bus passengers, told Ynet. “In the morning, there were sirens. The children didn’t even leave to eat breakfast, they eat in the shelter.”
When the opportunity came to evacuate to Haifa, they packed their bags within an hour, Giladov said.
The children feel badly, but “there is nothing to say,” she continued. “We have been suffering here for 21 years. You don’t get used to it.”
Another resident of Sderot, Daniel Mordechai, also expressed her frustration with the chronic security threats, saying in an interview with Kan news, “It saddens me that … the nation of Israel is used to attempts to destroy it for so many years already, and we move from one situation to another.”
Mordechai, who grew up in Sderot under the shadow of rocket fire from Palestinian terrorist groups, gave birth to a son one month ago — Ariel, who “for the first time heard many Red Alert sirens, too many even,” she said. “It saddens me that he was born to such a reality.”
Yet the terrorist attacks won’t drive her family or community away, the new mother said.
“We are here. Although it’s hard for us, we are unequivocally tired, but our resilience won’t be damaged, we are very strong people, a very strong community … we are here to stay,” Mordechai added. “As they say, no boulder will move us from here, and not this either.”