Photo by: Courtesy of Sderot Media Center
Six years! How much longer?
By NOAM BEDEIN
A million Israelis are now in Hamas’s missile range; Israel needs Iron Dome policy corollary when dealing with Gaza terror regime.
It took me 20 minutes to drive to Ashdod from Tel Aviv on Sunday morning, two days after the former was hit by seven Grad missiles fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, over 100 rockets and mortars were fired toward Israel since Friday August 19.
As has been my practice in Sderot for the past five years, my car windows were rolled down and the radio was turned down so I could hear the siren that would give me and everyone else 45 seconds to find a safe place. On the bright side, 45 seconds to run for your life in Ashdod is an improvement over the 15 seconds you have in Sderot.
The news announced burial plans for 38-year-old Yossi Ben-Sasson, who was killed by a Grad missile the night before in Beersheba when taking his nine-months-pregnant wife for a medical check up. The following news item was about a young woman fighting for her life at the Soroka hospital, also a victim of a Grad strike in Beersheba.
I arrived at Admor Me’gor street in Ashdod, where only a few days before a Grad missile had exploded within range of 900 yeshiva students and high school kids who were beginning their school day.
Yakkov Bozaglo, 56, who was taking shelter from the Friday morning Grad attack, described the huge explosion and the scene, with three men seriously injured as they left their small synagogue; how they were treated for shrapnel wounds on the spot, while thanking God that the high school and elementary students were set to arrive 15 minutes later.
I then drove to the next scene, where a missile had penetrated three meters of sand, burrowing into a ditch between two synagogues, causing damage, but leaving all the holy books and the Ark with its Torah scroll unscathed.
Ariel Zeldman, 26, who came to see his synagogue, where he prayed during the attack, described how everyone ran outside and crossed the street to the seven-floor apartment building to take cover. Ariel described how he held the hand of an elderly man who only made it halfway to the shelter and was injured by debris.
Leaving Ashdod and driving south toward Sderot, I saw a signpost on Route 4, next to Nitzan’s tent city encampment, screaming: “Six years! Until when?!”
The tents and signs depict the plight of Jewish residents from Gush Katif who have been living in refugee-style conditions since the IDF pulled all civilians and military personnel out of Gaza in August 2005.
Six years ago, these and other Gush Katif residents pleaded their case to the government and the media, warning that missiles would reach Ashdod if they and the IDF left Gaza. Today, they point out that the 60-km range of Iranian Grad missiles in Gaza can easily reach tent encampments on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv. The former Gaza residents are genuinely concerned about attacks on other Israeli communities, even though the leaders of the Tel Aviv encampment likely favored the forced expulsion of Jews from Gaza.
As the Internet site News1 headlined on Saturday night, one million Israelis in a 40-km radius around Gaza are now within missile range.
While Iron Dome batteries have been erected near Beersheba and Ashkelon, Ofakim and other Israeli communities can only dream of having a battery. Ofakim, a development town 20 km from Gaza with a population of 30,000, was hit Saturday night by a Grad missile that exploded directly into the Amoyal family’s home. The rocket left the house completely destroyed – something I hadn’t seen in five years of documenting Kassam attacks on Sderot. I saw brick walls, up to 20 centimeters thick, crushed and blown into the kitchen, demolishing four rooms and leaving 25-year-old Kfir Amoyal shivering alone in his bedroom, suffering from shock and light wounds.
Attacks from Gaza, and Israel’s targeted responses, will continue for the foreseeable future. To our dismay, global media will continue to focus on Israel’s responses while ignoring the terrorists’ actions and constant declarations of their intention to wipe us out.
In addition to our remarkable military capabilities, Israel needs a policy corollary to the Iron Dome when it comes to dealing with the driving force behind the Gaza terror regime and its counterparts in other parts of the country.
Israel must deal with the root of the problem, and not waste time debating which town to protect; or continue throwing money into complex and expensive technology that will, at best, only prevent a small percentage of rockets from reaching their targets.
The writer is director of the Sderot Media Center.