After a relative quiet period following Operation Pillar of Defense, code-red alerts (which are sounded whenever a Qassam rocket is approaching) were sounded in Sderot violating the November, 2012 ceasefire for the second time. One rocket severely damaged a house in Sderot, while another landed in a field.
Two more rockets were fired at Israel, yet exploded within Gaza. The rockets are believed to have been fired from Beit Hanoun. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, yet two residents were treated for shock. There have been no immediate claims of responsibility for these terror attacks from the various Palestinian terror groups. In fact, Hamas denies that they fired any rockets.
Nevertheless, for the residents of southern Israel, the rocket attacks were very real. “When I heard the first siren I thought it was a false alarm,” says Meri, a Sderot resident. “We’ve already had some of those in the area. But immediately after I heard the second siren, I came to my senses.”
“We’ve come to learn that even if you don’t hear an explosion at first, it doesn’t mean that it won’t come. And it really did come, when the third siren sounded.” While Meir asserted that he was safely within a fortified area, “the high alert and fear caused by the red-alerts takes me back to terrible days here in the city.”
Doron Fartush, another Sderot resident, asserted that he also believed that it was a false alarm, yet “when we heard the second red-alert we realized it was serious and that they were firing at the city. And then, after the third siren, we heard a loud explosion. When we realized it had landed in the area, we started checking. Thankfully, it landed in the neighbors’ yard and not on their house. It looks like [Hamas] wants to show their force when an important personality arrives in Israel.”
Yossi Haziza, was not so lucky. His house was severely damaged by a Qassam rocket that landed on his home. For many in Sderot, the physical damage can be repaired, but the real damage caused by the Qassam rockets is psychological. Haziza claimed that both his wife and child were asleep when a rocket was fired at their home and that he was unsure whether his family would be able to overcome the trauma by having their sleep interrupted in such a cruel way.
“I don’t know how we are going to deal with this,” Haziza said. “The terrorists fire whenever they want and however they want and we seem unable to stop them. It could be that Hamas is doing this in ‘honor’ of Obama, sending him a message before he goes to Ramallah that he had better not forget about them.”
Israeli cities are protected by the joint American, Israeli-developed Iron Dome system, yet sadly the Iron Dome batteries were deployed at Ben-Gurion International Airport in order to protect American President Obama. Israeli officials believe that this rocket attack was a message to President Obama that any agreement that he makes with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas would be meaningless without them. Israel claimed that it was possible that Hamas was trying to provoke an Israeli response to the Qassam rocket attack while Obama was in the region, which would create a diplomatic crisis as President Obama visits Palestinian-controlled areas.
By Rachel Avraham