The other day in Sderot, I made an astonishing observation. I was walking from the office after a long day at work to catch some sleep, when I noticed I was not walking alone. Usually the city is deadly quiet once the sun sets, as parents refuse to let children play outside in the dark. Families prefer to remain at home together after a long day of siren alerts and rocket explosions.

High school kids don’t ride around as much with the music blasting, and teenagers don’t walk around listening to their I-pods in case the ‘tzeva adom’ sounds. There’s not much to do at night except maybe watch a movie and hope that Hamas rocket launchers decide to go to sleep, so that those us living in Sderot can relax just a little bit.

In any case, tonight I actually noticed people outside on the street. For the first time since I started working in Sderot over a year ago, I saw moms walking around with their strollers and neighbors playing cards outside on the porch.

A playground is full of kids shouting and playing-that is one sight that makes me do a double take. Playgrounds are usually pretty much empty here in Sderot.

Then I realized that this is the new playground that everyone is talking about-the first playground in the world that is properly protected from rocket fire.


There are heavy concrete tubes that kids can run to for protection when the siren sounds.

Moms are finally feeling that it is safe enough to let their kids play at a playground. The kids look like they are having fun, what an ingenious idea.

I spoke to Orna Cohen, a local Sderot mom, who’s pretty happy with the playground.

“I can finally let my grandkids outside to play in this new playground, when they come to visit me in Sderot,” Orna said. “Usually I have to keep them pent up inside the house. It’s nice to have a playground like this where the kids can play somewhat at peace, but it’s obviously not a solution to living with the rocket fire.

“I just want the rockets to stop for good so that we don’t have to live for these little moments of quiet that are followed by terrible barrages of Qassams.”

In any case, the children of Sderot definitely deserve some kind of break. About 70-94% of Sderot children now show signs of -post-traumatic stress disorder.

On another interesting note, at the Sderot Trauma Center, director Dr. Adriane Katz, reported that the number of cases of shock and panic among Sderot residents has only risen since the beginning of the year.

“The ceasefire is giving families, especially parents and kids, a chance to breathe a little,” Katz. “This is not a real calm, however, because we know the rocket fire will resume soon. Most people anticipate another heavy round of rocket fire based on what happened in the last ceasefire.”

Indeed, over 300 Palestinian rockets were fired at Sderot from Gaza during the last Hamas ceasefire from November 2006 to May 2007.

It’s also fairly obvious to everyone that this ceasefire has not prevented Hamas from stockpiling its weapons. In the last ceasefire, Hamas stockpiled more weapons and rocket material, and trained more soldiers to attack our troops. They are doing the same thing now. On Hamas’s Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades website, a senior Hamas official states that the calm is considered a victory for Hamas, a chance “to recharge power.”

You can just visit their English website and see how the terrorist group continues to call for the destruction of the state of Israel, glorifying terrorists as ‘martyrs.’ If Hamas can’t actively fire rockets, then the regime can passively do so by preparing for the next strategic round of rocket fire. Who is fooling who?

Unfortunately and tragically, in the next round of events, it will be the residents of Sderot and the western Negev who pay a heavy price for this temporary calm.

Although we are all enjoying this nice respite from the hell we’ve been experiencing this year-over 2,000 Qassams and mortar shells have hit the western Negev since January, killing four people and wounding hundreds-we know that the worst is being planned out now. Does the Israeli government even care? Or will we continue to play along as we usually do, while Hamas plans us all away?

Until next time…see you at the new playground!


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