Israel Defense Minister, Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday November 24 that he is pleased with the continuing calm of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire. “I’m not sorry for any day or month of quiet,” Barak said.
He cited that before the ceasefire began, 500 Qassam missiles were fired monthly at Sderot and Negev. The number of rockets dropped to approximately 10 a month once the ceasefire began.
Although Barak did point out that the number of Palestinian rocket attacks against the Negev did escalate in the past month–he stated that the rocket escalation occurred only after the IDF targeted a Palestinian tunnel created for the purpose of kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Barak predicted that the calm would return to the region.
Sderot resident and head of the Sderot Trauma Center, Dr. Adrianna Katz disagrees. “It doesn’t matter if its 10 Qassam rockets or 100 Qassam rockets,” says Dr. Katz, “the psychological impact and traumatic effect that the rockets have on Sderot and Negev residents are the same.”
Indeed, when asked if she would call the current period the continuation of a ceasefire, Dr. Katz laughs in irony. “I have had to open the trauma center a number of times during this ‘ceasefire.’ As long as there are Sderot kids and families coming to my trauma center to be treated for shock and trauma, after experiencing a Palestinian rocket attack, you cannot honestly call this a ceasefire. “
Dr. Katz has her own prediction for the next few months. “I expect that the trauma center will remain open for the long term,” she says. “When not one single Palestinian missile is fired at Sderot and the Negev, then there will be period of real calm. Unfortunately, this is not the case now.”
Ehud Barak. Photo Rick Burres
Before the Palestinian missile escalation in November, over 36 rockets were fired from Gaza at the Negev during the ceasefire. In the month of November alone, over 100 Qassam and mortar rockets have been fired at Sderot and the Negev.
Former candidate for Sderot mayor and business owner, Sasson Sara, had harsher words for Ehud Barak’s recent statements. “The man is unclear about what he wants and says what he wants without properly examining the situation,” says Sasson. “Barak doesn’t care about us here in Sderot. All he cares about is how he is going to win in the next elections and the right words he should say in order to win.”
“Barak hasn’t done anything for Sderot’s security. He talks while the Palestinian rockets continue to be fired at us,” says Sasson.
Indeed, a Palestinian rocket was fired from Gaza a day previously and landed in an open area in the western Negev, causing no reported damage or injury. Three more Palestinian rockets were fired over the weekend with one falling outside of Ashkelon.