On Saturday night, April 19, Jewish people around the world celebrated Passover in the peace and quiet of their homes. In southern Israel, the residents of Sderot and the western Negev celebrated Passover under a different reality-sirens and rocket fire.
Sderot families gathered around their Seder tables, retelling the tale of the Jewish people’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt to national independence and freedom. However, the sirens and rocket fire the next shattered the holiday atmosphere for Sderot and western Negev families. Three times the sirens sounded, sending families to bomb shelters for safety during the day (April 20), as seven rockets were fired from Gaza.
Indeed, the quiet ended for Israelis living in this southern region only a few days earlier. After a week and a half of quiet, on Wednesday April 16, Sderot and the western Negev region experienced 19 Qassam rocket attacks, with 9 exploding in the afternoon, damaging several homes in Kibbutz Nir Am. An additional 10 rockets were fired Wednesday night, hitting outside Netivot, and within the vicinity of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council and Eshkol Regional Council.
Also on Wednesday, three Israeli soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen, who approached the security fence south of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal. Three other Israeli soldiers were wounded.
On Thursday (April 17), 17 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev, including an upgraded Qassam rocket that activated the red dawn alert in Ashkelon.
On Friday (April 18), 16 Qassams were fired with one hitting power lines in Sderot, causing an elecriticty blackout. Another landed in the yard of a house in Sderot where two women suffered shock, while another exploded outside a school.
Thirteen IDF soldiers were wounded on Saturday morning (April 19) when three explosive-laden vehicles disguised as military jeeps approached the Kerem Shalom centeral crossing. Approximately 200 humanitarian aid trucks enter the crossing per week. Terrorists triggered the explosives in the two jeeps, wounding the 13 soldiers as a barrage of 15 mortar shells were also fired at the area at the same time.
For the past 7 years, Sderot and the western Negev have experienced close to 8, 000 Qassam rocket attacks.
Every Passover holiday, the residents of Sderot and the western Negev pray for a peaceful and quiet year. As the month of April and this past Passover have shown, however, the Qassam rocket fire and Palestinian terrorist activities only continue, escalating with each passing month.