Forty kassam rockets were launched at Sderot on Tuesday, January 15 followed by another 50 rockets on Wednesday and an additional 40 rockets on Thursday night. I was in Sderot working in the office most of the day on Tuesday, replying to e-mails and writing up articles, when around four in the afternoon the first red alert siren sounded. I found myself going in and out of the bomb shelter for a time as sirens went off and rockets began raining down on the city.
It was non-stop and at one point I could hear the whistle of a rocket zooming over our office and then exploding with a loud boom over in the next neighborhood.
My experience in Sderot is becoming more frightening by the moment. I keep dreaming at night that rockets are heading towards me and when I am in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the rocket reality in Sderot remains in my head. Any loud noise makes me think immediately of a kassam and I find myself more tense and alert than usual.
I’ve become a resident of Sderot in this respect. Living here three to four days a week has given me a dose of terror that will last me a lifetime.
After the rocket whistled over our office, I and the Sderot Media Center team headed over to the location where the rocket landed. There, again, the same fearful faces and panicked eyes of people, meet the news crews, police, and ambulance personnel who arrive on scene. A mother is taken away, her face bloody as a piece of shrapnel hit her forehead. A 7-year old girl, also wounded by shrapnel, cries as medical personnel try to clean her up. Drops of blood mark her pajamas. A disturbing sight.
We continue to film even after another red siren sounds and the people escape to shelter. I find myself sitting on the curb. This is too much. Reality hits hard and I wonder how many more rockets the city of Sderot will endure this evening.
A couple hours later around eight at night, a rocket hits an electricity line and the entire city of Sderot becomes completely dark. The blackout lasts for two hours. People bundle up in winter coats and blankets. It is a cold January night and with the heat off, I decide to spend the night outside Sderot, like many other residents.
I walk in complete darkness to the bus stop. An elderly man is waiting for a bus back to Netivot, returning home after a day’s work. He tells me that there will be an all out war in this region soon.
He could be right.
From January 1st, to January 20th, an IDF spokesman reported that over 430 kassams and mortars were launched towards Sderot, Ashkelon and the Western Negev. It is now estimated that about 190,000 Israelis in Ashkelon, Netivot, and other cities, kibbutzim and moshavim in the region are under missile threat.
In the year 2007 alone, over 2,300 rockets have been launched towards Israel. On a daily basis, Hamas smuggles through the Philadelphi border (between Egypt and Gaza) one ton of ammunition, along with other materials used to make kassams, as well as terrorists and army weapons.
Although the kassam rockets are limited in accuracy, they have terrorized the population in Sderot to the point where a recent study by Natal revealed that between 75 percent to 94 percent of Sderot children show signs of post traumatic stress disorder.
The people of Sderot and the Western Negev are living in a war-zone. If the video footage and photos on the news do not do enough to reveal the reality of this rocket terror, then the statistics do.
As I wait at the fortified bus stop for my bus to take me away from the chaos and craziness of the day, I wonder just how long the people of Sderot will be able to suffer through these dark times. There seems to be no end in sight to the rocket terror and its continuous devastation upon the Western Negev region.