As the rocket count after Operation Cast Lead climbs over 226 rockets and five Trauma Centers in the Sderot region are set to close down, five top Australian parliamentarians visited Sderot, Israel on Wednesday August 5th. Guided by the Sderot Media Center, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Member of Parliament Julie Bishop, Members of Parliament Bruce Billson and Louise Markus, and Senators Simon Birmingham and Scott Ryan all visited residents of the trauma ridden city and the Sderot Emergency Center that closed down last month.
Hon Julie Bishop MP with the diplomatic group visiting the closed Sderot Emergency Center.
The Sderot Emergency Center, that was closed July 21st, was specially opened for the parliamentary group. Devorah Katz, a Sderot resident that volunteers at the emergency center spoke to the parliamentarians about the desperate need for financial aid to reopen the center. “Everybody here knows the rockets will start escalating sometime in the next two months,” Katz told the group of parliamentarians while sitting in the center’s bomb shelter that doubles as another treatment room. Katz highlighted the financial crisis all the trauma centers in Sderot are having and continued by specifying the emergency center, “we don’t have a first aid center to treat any of the terror victims.”
Video: Ran Tzabari
The Australian parliamentarians visited Sderot’s only school that remains only one third protected from rocket fire. Sderot mother of five Shula Sasson spoke to the parliamentarians underneath the large reinforced protections of the school that her youngest daughter, Liz, attended. Sasson told the stories of how her home was hit on December 12th last year and how her youngest son was injured by a Qassam five years ago. As a mother, Member of Parliament Louise Markus asked Sasson how she remains so strong and she replied “because I have to be strong for my children. I have no other choice.”
Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Louise Markus MP, and Senator Simon Birmingham visiting a school with Sderot mother Shula Sasson.
After viewing Sderot’s geographic proximity from a local hilltop, Member of Parliament Bruce Billson commented on what he learned from visiting the rocket ridden city of Sderot. “The fear and emotional impact this is having on the community here- its not right,” Billson continued, “For things to move forward one needs to feel safe.”
Australian parliamentarians at viewpoint of the Gaza Strip with Sderot Media Center.
The parliamentarians’ visit comes just three days before Sderot Media Center director Noam Bedein travels to Australia to share the story of Sderot in college campuses and communities across the country.
Photos: Roi Borobiski