When President Barak Obama visited Sderot this past July, he left a lasting impression on Sderot resident, Pinchas Amar. “He was friendly and charismatic and showed genuine concern about the rocket situation,” said Pinchas Amar. Amar’s home was partially destroyed when a Palestinian rocket exploded over his kitchen in December 2007.
In a press conference held in Sderot during Obama’s visit, Obama stated that he did not believe that any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.
“The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens. If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing,” said Obama.
Pinchas Amar remembers Obama’s words very clearly. In a press conference facilitated by Sderot Media Center at the Amars’ family home in light of Obama’s victory, Pinchas stated that Obama’s visit to Sderot had given him hope. “Obama told me personally that he wants the Qassams to stop.”
photo: Noam Bedein
Obama had also stated during his visit to Sderot that the US will always stand by the people of Israel. “The state of Israel faces determined enemies who seek its destruction,” said Obama.
Obama furthermore promised to share the story of Sderot with his fellow Americans. “I will work from the moment that I return to America, to tell the story of Sderot and to make sure that the good people who live here are enjoying a future of peace and security and hope.”
Indeed, peace and security have yet to visit the children and families of Sderot and the western Negev.
Only on Wednesday morning, November 5, a massive Palestinian rocket strike on Ashkelon and the western Negev had residents waking up in terror. Sderot residents were awakened around four in the morning by the red alert, Tzeva Adom siren, warning of impending rocket explosions. Sderot residents once again returned to the routine of Palestinian rockets as Americans voted in their new president during those hours.
In all, over 46 Palestinian rockets were fired at Israeli civilians and residential areas. The rockets damaged several green houses in the western Negev. Two rockets landed in Ashkelon, one which hit a quiet neighborhood, and sent three people into shock.
video: Meital Ohayon
The massive rocket attack came about when IDF special forces entered Gaza to blow up a tunnel dug by Hamas terrorists in order to kidnap Israeli soldiers. The tunnel’s end surfaced into a Gaza home, which the Palestinian terrorists blew up during the course of fighting with Israeli soldiers.
According to the IDF, Hamas jeopardized the fragile ceasefire with the digging of the tunnel, which was apparently ready to be used to abduct Israeli soldiers in the very near future. Hamas has dug an unknown number of tunnels since the cease-fire began. The tunnels have been used to smuggle explosives and weaponry into Gaza through Sinai and will be used for future attacks on Israel. It is believed that the tunnels play a central role in the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas.
A few hours after the press conference was held in Pinchas Amar’s home, where Pinchas expressed his hope in the new US president, two more Qassam rockets were fired at Sderot from Gaza in the evening.
Indeed, even with the hope that the new US President inspires in the people of Sderot, residents are not taking any chances. Throughout the neighborhoods of Sderot, new bomb shelters are emerging besides homes and playgrounds.
As construction continues on Pinchas Amar’s new home, Pinchas hopes that Barak Obama will follow up on his promise to invite him to his new home on Pennsylvania Avenue. “President Obama stood right here in my house when I blessed him on a successful campaign to the presidency,” said Pinchas. “Obama smiled and told me that if he did become president, I would be among his first guests to the White House. I hope he doesn’t forget that promise or the people of Sderot in our difficult times ahead.”
SMC’s Press Conference on Barak Obama
In light of Barak Obama’s victory for the US presidency, Sderot Media Center facilitated a press conference at Pinchas Amar’s home on Wednesday, November 5. Barak Obama had visited Pinchas Amar during his visit to Sderot back in July, where the then US-senator had promised to share the story of Sderot with his fellow Americans. Amar has high hopes for the forty-fourth president of the US. “Obama seemed genuinely concerned about the rocket situation and its impact on Sderot residents,” Amar told reporters from the New York Times, EPI, a Russian news network, LA Times, Jerusalem Post and other Israeli news networks. Amar’s home was partially destroyed when a Palestinian rocket exploded on his kitchen back in December 2007.
Links to coverage from the press conference: