Palestinians in north Gaza fired two Qassams toward Israel on Tuesday. One rocket struck a vacant Na'amat daycare center in the western Negev city of Sderot, causing slight damage to the building. A woman living nearby suffered from shock as a result of the attack. The second Qassam landed near a gas station outside the city; no injuries or damage were reported.
We heard the Color Red alert system and then a very loud blast, said a resident who lives near the daycare center. The rocket landed inside the daycare center grounds and hit a tree, which probably prevented it from striking passersby or causing greater damage.
The center is currently undergoing fortification works, and this is apparently why there were no kids inside. I dont want to imagine what would have happened had the center been open, the resident told Ynet.
The rocket landed in close proximity to Sderot Mayor Eli Moyals office, which is not shielded against such attacks. The rockets are continuing to fall on Sderot every day, the mayor said. Today one fell on a vacant daycare center, but eventually these rockets will kill someone.
After the incident, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian children along the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said. The two dead were 10 and 12 years old, according to Dr. Muawiya Hassanin of the Palestinian Health Ministry. A third child, 10, was seriously wounded and six other people were lightly hurt, he said. The army said troops targeted two figures spotted near a rocket launcher in an area where one of the rockets had been fired into Israel earlier.
A few weeks ago a Qassam rocket struck a kindergarten in Sderot, which was also vacant due to the summer vacation. Parents in the city are continuing to voice their protest over the fact that many educational institutions have not been fortified with only two weeks remaining before the opening of the new school year.
Only four out of nine schools in Sderot have been completely fortified, despite an order by the High Court of Justice to complete the fortification of all schools in the town by the beginning of the school year. As a result, many of Sderots children have not enrolled in the towns schools due to the Qassam threat.
After seven years of rocket fire, at times sporadic and at times intense, Sderot has turned into a city of fear. A working-class town that begins less than 2½ kilometers from the Gaza border, Sderot is the bull's-eye for the relatively crude Qassams, whose warheads are stuffed with shrapnel. With each attack, more of its 24,000 residents are added to the list of those treated for "harada," Hebrew for severe anxiety or alarm.
Psychologists and mental health workers here describe a population that has become paralyzed by the terror of the last red alert and the dread of the next one. Even those born into it never get inured to the fear induced by each new attack or the randomness of the threat, they say.
"It's trauma upon trauma upon trauma," said Tami Sagi, director of psychological services in Sderot. "I don't think enough research has been done to show the effect of such fear over such a long period of time."
Isabel Kerschner of the New York Times interviewed resident Shimon Cohen and his family of six children. Cohen's five-year-old son still shows signs of trauma from an attack that occurred near him when he was 2 years old. His current restlessness is compounded by the fact that officials closed his kindergarten two weeks ago. He is also suffering from a bad toothache, but his mother has been waiting for the current round of hostilities to calm before taking him to the dentist. "What if a red alert goes off in the middle?" she said, her features tight with tension. "And what am I supposed to do with the other kids while I'm stuck there for two or three hours?"
Even taking a shower is stressful. The Qassams can get you anywhere, anytime, Sderot residents say, and with the water running, you cannot hear the alert and take shelter.
Although they own a comfortable, two-story home, the Cohens, like most families in Sderot, are sleeping like refugees. They spread mattresses on the floor of the living room every night, afraid to sleep in the upstairs bedrooms in case a rocket comes smashing through the roof. Some of the Cohen children have taken to sleeping with neighborhood friends, packed like sardines on the floor of a stifling, windowless bomb shelter across the road. Everyone knows what happened one Saturday evening, when a rocket destroyed the children's bedroom of an apartment nearby. The family, luckily, was out of town.
Whenever a rocket lands in Sderot, the police and ambulance crews rush to the scene. "People are shaking, they can't move, they are crying, sweating, and in a state of shock," said Yuri Malol, a volunteer paramedic with the ambulance service. "It affects everybody - young, old, men, women, children. There is no age for it," he said.
While the wounded are taken to hospital, those suffering from harada are taken to the city trauma center, a neat, low building next to the police station. There, half-a-dozen beds are waiting along with a team of soldiers with medical training backing up a small, overstretched civilian staff.
Some schools that are equipped with fortified roofs and bomb shelters re-opened Tuesday. At the Gil Elementary School, 49 pupils out of 200 turned up. Etti Azran, the principal, said she knew the location of every absent pupil. Seventy-six were out of town and the rest were at home, their parents too scared to bring them, she said.
Several thousand residents of Sderot have left the town temporarily, and a few who had the means have gone for good.
Shimon Cohen was born in Sderot and swears he will never leave. As a kind of statement, he has just invested $7,000 in house renovations. "I won't let Hamas dance on the rooftops because I've run away," he said, sitting out on the porch with his family as the evening drew in. Hanna and the children would readily move out, but they know that nobody would buy the house.
This man's comment on life in a highly dangerous place is typical of Zionists. His wife and children are suffering from trauma, but he sacrifices them for his ideology: to hold onto the land no matter what. To him, anything is better than giving in to the "enemy". This is the sorry state of the Jewish people in our time: they have made enemies for themselves, and now their main goal in life has become not to save Jewish lives, not to protect their family, not to send their children to school, but only to be sure not to give in to the enemies they have made.