In light of the calm that has returned to Sderot and the western Negev, various groups of international students on Israeli programs have once again returned to visit region. On Tuesday, February 3, over 150 Young Judaea and FZY students visited Sderot.
As the Zionist Youth Movement of Hadassah, Young Judaea does an amazing job of providing its students with experience and education on the issues facing Israel and the Jewish people today. Following one of the most televised and violent conflicts in Israel’s recent history, it is important that people keep coming to Sderot to understand the rocket reality that the people of Sderot live with.
Year-course students from the United States and the United Kingdom spent the morning visiting protected playgrounds, schools, restaurants and homes that have been afflicted with this rocket reality in Sderot. While sitting in the only protected playground in the world, with rocket-proof concrete caterpillars for children to play in, the students heard the personal stories of Sderot mother Chava Gad.
The students were then able to walk around and talk with local business owners and residents of Sderot while they visited the sites and destruction of many rocket attacks in the downtown Sderot marketplace. The groups also traveled to see several homes and synagogues that have been directly hit by Qassam rockets of the eight years of rocket fire. To put Sderot’s rocket reality into context, the Young Judaea students went to a viewpoint that overlooks southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. They were able to see with their own eyes how close the 1-3km distance between Sderot and the Gaza Strip.
As students that will return to U.S. and U.K. college campuses, it was extremely important for them to see first hand the situation in Sderot. With the knowledge and experience from today’s visit, the Young Judaea students are now equipped to expose the rocket reality and combat the anti-Israel sentiments they will face back on their college campuses.