As Operation Pillar of Defense continues, many Israelis in Southern Israel live in fear of rocket attacks. Ori Lieberman, a resident of Yad Binyamin, reported that the bomb sirens went off while he was in synagogue. He claimed that only a small shelter existed there and as a result, it was too crammed to fit every one inside of it. However, Ori has a son and three grandchildren in Be’ersheva. There, the situation is even direr; his three grandchildren are trembling in fear and have essentially moved into the stairwell, which is the safest place if you lack a bomb shelter.

Children respond worse to the rocket attacks than adults do. According to Haaretz, the Israel Center for Victims of Terror and War reported that between 75 and 94 percent of the children in Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The fate of the children of Sderot could soon become the predicament of the children of Southern Israel. Eyal, an 11-year-old resident of Kfar Arif reported that he was scared from the rocket attacks and had to sleep inside a safe room. While he has evacuated to the north to live with relatives, he fears for his parents who remain in Kfar Arif.

However, the rocket attacks don’t just adversely affect children. A pregnant woman in Kiryat Malachi lamented, “I’m not going to be able to run down three flights of stairs every time the rocket siren goes off. I told my husband that we’re sitting outside near the shelter for the rest of the evening.” Another woman who was planning on marrying off her son this week in Kiryat Malachi fears that not so many people will be at her son’s wedding because of the war and is presently frantically calling up relatives, begging them to come any ways.

However, despite this horrible situation, there are people who remain in Southern Israel and try to go on with their routines as much as humanly possible given the circumstances. One Ben-Gurion University student, Asaf Farhadian, is determined to stay in Be’ersheva despite what is happening in order to “show to ourselves, to the rest of the citizens of Israel, to our allies and enemies all around the world – that” Israelis are strong. He continued, “Even in those moments when the sirens sound in the south of Israel, my home is here, in Be’ersheva and I’m not going any where.” Juliet Zakuto of Kiryat Malachi concurs, asserting, “The rockets will never scare us away” from our homes.

The Jerusalem Post reports that in Sderot, “Cars drive down the streets and shoppers frequent local businesses. A gardener can be seen pruning branches outside a house on a residential street and several youths ride past on bicycles.” According to Ma’ariv, a wedding in Be’ersheva went on as planned despite the fact that it was interrupted many times due to bomb sirens. The mother of the bride declared, “They wanted to send against us rockets that would cancel the wedding, but they will not succeed.” One of the friends of the groom added, “we are not ready to concede to terrorists.”

However, it is important to remember that despite people’s courageous efforts to go on with their lives as if the situation were normal, the reality on the ground remains dreadful for communities that live within rocket range of Gaza. In such situations, the main thing keeping people strong is the support of being near family. As one lady from Rishon LeTzion said, remaining near family was her main reason for staying put in her home, so that she would be the first to know if something happened. Ortal Ben Yisha of Ashdod concurred with her on this, which is why she viewed being in Ashdod as better than staying in Be’ersheva, even though the situation in Ashdod is just as horrible as Be’ersheva.

Reported by Rachel Avraham for United With Israel