While the United Nations cries out against Israel for defending itself—and takes no notice of Hamas' using its own citizens as human shields—residents of the Israeli town of Sderot, one mile from Gaza, have lived under Hamas rocket fire for eight years.
This extraordinarily moving video shows what happened at a Sderot synagogue on May 17, 2007, the night it was struck by a Qassam rocket just after congregants celebrated a scribe's completion of the temple's new Torah.
SderotMedia.com, a citizens-journalism site in the hard-hit town, made the above video as well as this one, taped on Thursday, after a Qassam rocket severely damaged a Sderot home. It relates how one of the firefighters responding to the hit discovered it was the home of his own parents—who were unhurt, thank God.
These and other videos on SderotMedia.com hint at the human toll that Hamas rocket attacks have taken on Israel for years. Sderot's suffering has been almost entirely ignored by the international media, save for rare exceptions such as last week's account from Associated Press journalist Amy Teibel. She reported:
After eight years of rocket barrages from Gaza, the people of Sderot have the drill down: The Code Red alert warning of incoming rocket fire sends them rushing into one of the many safe rooms scattered across the town. ...At the end of the video directly above, a daughter of the couple whose house was hit sums it up:
The rockets that usually land in Sderot are crude projectiles manufactured in Gaza. But they can maim or kill, and when they land close, they set off a terrifying blast. ...
Albert el-Harrat came to Sderot 47 years ago, when it was a tent camp. "People are waiting and praying that the offensive will continue until it's completed," _ that is, until the rocket fire stops.
"We don't want to attack civilians. We want to attack the Hamas leaders who order people to attack (our) civilians," he says. ...
Israel's military campaign hasn't stopped the rocket fire, so the government has shut down schools across the south. Sderot residents joke that kids have been put under house arrest, but not all of them are unhappy. Bomb shelters have been transformed into makeshift clubhouses, where kids under the supervision of soldiers or volunteers can play games, do art projects or just hang out.
"This has been the routine for eight years, not one day and not two. We get used to this, but we must not become desensitized to this, not for one second. I hope that with the help of God, and I pray to God, that this will be the last Qassam."*TAKE ACTION: Give to the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Emergency Fund to help Israeli children and other civilians living in areas targeted by Hamas rockets. Nearly 40 Grad missiles have struck in or around Beer-Sheva since December 30. Warning sirens generally sound three to four times a day.
My brother lives in the Negev and has seen firsthand the vital work that BGU-Negev is doing, some of which you can see in the video on the fund's Web site. Its volunteers are aiding the elderly and others in need, delivering meals, manning hotlines, providing day care, and running programs for children, who are often deprived of daylight due to the long hours they must spend in bomb shelters.
PLEASE PRAY: For my brother; his bride, who is expecting their first child, and for peace in the Holy Land.
*The video's subtitles leave out the "o" in God's name because Orthodox Jews do not say or write His name, for fear of breaking the commandment against taking it in vain.