By 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, 13 Qassams have fallen on Sderot. I smell the smoke from the last rocket explosion as I stand outside our office looking around.
The silence of the usually busy main street in Sderot is the first indicator that a rocket has just landed.
Only a few seconds before, when the siren went off, cars stopped in the middle of the street as drivers rushed out to take cover in the nearest bomb shelter.
They come back to their cars looking dazed and out of focus.
During the siren people leave their shopping carts in the middle of the grocery aisle.
Those getting a haircut at the nearby barber shop, run out with half-finished hair styles to the bomb shelter outside.
My Sderot Media Center colleagues and I stop in the middle of our work at the computers.
And then we wait.
The world is still and silent as the rocket lands.
You feel the fear.
The world stops for that second.
I pray to G-d that no one gets hurt and that no home is hit.
We count the seconds.
And then go back to what we were doing.
But with a little less laughter and fewer smiles. Fear and trepidation mark the eyes and faces of the elderly and young, mothers, fathers, teenagers…
In the evening, we attend a Holocaust memorial service in Sderot. During the ceremony, a Red Dawn alert siren is heard in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. Two more Qassam rockets have been fired from Gaza at the western Negev.
I recall the words of the IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, who a few hours previously in Auschwitz, stated “I have come here to tell the world: never again.”
On the Jpost website, there is a video of Gabi Ashkenazi saying the following:
“We think it is important to pass on the message of the Holocaust and what happened to us: what is the significance of the heritage and history of the Jewish people. The link between what happened in Europe and the State of Israel.”
“For which purpose Israel was created and what is its role, and within this message, what is the purpose of the IDF.”
On Thursday morning, when the siren sounds again at 10:00am, and all of Israel stops to remember the atrocities and victims of the Holocaust, the people of Sderot will stand silent and still for that siren as well.
I only hope that during that pause, the Red Dawn siren alert will not sound.
I also hope and pray that the people of Israel do not forget the plight of those Israelis living in the western Negev. We in Sderot pause many times during a regular day for sirens and rocket explosions, as Palestinian rocket terror consistently disrupts our daily lives.
The people of Sderot and the western Negev have a right to live in peace and security. The state of Israel was created to provide this basic need for the Jewish people.
The residents of Sderot and southern Israel are no exception.
Photo by: Roy Idan