Who screams out for the pain of the families of Sedrot ? More than 400 missiles in the first three weeks of the year, the defense minister doesn’t scream out, he thinks that their pain is exaggerated (see Barak Says Sedrot Isn’t That Bad). Not the Prime Minister, he is too worried about himself (see Olmert- I HAD A ROUGH DAY BECAUSE OF KASSAMS)Not the world media. Two days of Israel closing off the Gaza boarders, that’s all they talk about. 2,300 rockets in a year get ignored. Oh They give a missile count, all very clinical. The media doesn’t tell their stories. They don’t call it targeting children–they call it circle of violence. The Girls hide under the desk, will the rockets hit them this time? Will they get killed next time..why doesn’t their government care? Why doesn’t the Mainstream Media care? Where is the UN? Why does it seem as if no one cares about the families in Sedrot. Today I received two heartfelt eye-wittness stories about the people in Sedrot. I include them both below, please try to feel their pain…please speak out.
Chaos and Compassion in Sderot: Experiencing the Tension and Caring of a City Under Attack I spent the day yesterday in Sderot – a city of 25,000 very frightened people. Many people throughout Israel, and even abroad, are doing whatever they can to support this beleaguered city, and I had the opportunity to escort Phil and Mira Konigsberg of Lawrence, Long Island who came to Sderot with their family to deliver stuffed animals to young children in pre-schools in the city. Lauren Stahl, OneFamily’s Long Island Regional Director was also with us. I had been in Sderot quite a few times in the past year, and while I was able to sympathize with the people there – and even admire them greatly – I was never able to identify with the fear. Yesterday, that all changed. Our first stop was the home of Nati and Nana Engel. Nati suffered critical injury in a Kassam attack in June 2006. As his recovery has progressed, his wife Nana has become OneFamily’s fulltime volunteer coordinator in Sderot. She knows everyone in town, has personal experience in what each victim’s family must contend with, and is easily one of the most resourceful and matter-of-fact people I have ever met. As we came into her cozy and well-kept home – 50 meters from where a rocket landed just three weeks ago – she told us that there had been two rockets already that morning, and that one of them had hit the house of a young couple and their 7-month old daughter. They didn’t know if anyone had been hurt. After Nati told the visitors of his experiences and Nana explained how she works closely with OneFamily to help the families in the community, we traveled to the Ofe Kor meat packing plant. On November 21, 2006, a Kassam rocket slammed into the plant, killing one employee who had been rushing his co-workers into a protected room. He was the only one who didn’t manage to get inside before the explosion. The manager of the plant hosted us for lunch, and during the meal, he told us that the house that had been hit belongs to his niece. The baby had been sleeping in a ground-floor room and was not hurt, but they took her to the hospital for a hearing test to make sure that her hearing had not been damaged in the explosion. He then escorted us to the house itself. We arrived at the same time as a camera crew from Channel 2 in New York, in Israel to cover President Bush’s visit. The reporter interviewed several of our guests, since they are from the New York area. We were able to witness the damage caused by the missile, which in this case, was thankfully not major. We then traveled to a preschool nearby to deliver the toys to the children. The Konigsbergs spoke with each of the excited children, who were thrilled to have visitors from America. The class of 3 year-olds showed the Konigsbergs what they do to protect themselves when they hear the “Code Red” alarm. “I am courageous, look at my muscles,” shouted one boy, while posing for them. “So what do you think of the ‘Code Red’,” he was asked. “You know,” he answered, pointing upwards. “On top of this roof there are monsters. I’m going to go and throw them all into a cage and get them out of here.” “And when you hear the alarm?”Then I run into the other room like this,” he said, jumping over the doorstep into the protected room of the preschool. The preschool teacher, Zehava, told us that it is often very difficult for them after an alarm. The children are not yet equipped to handle the tension, and the teachers are constantly trying to find new ways to alleviate their fears. “But we are afraid too,” she said. “My brother’s house was hit almost a year ago, and he was badly burned. I live across the street from him, and I saw the fire. He is getting better now, but you never know where the next one will hit or who will be affected.” When we asked who her brother is, and she told us his name, we realized that not only is OneFamily already helping him with financial support and encouragement, but in fact, he was our planned next stop. As we walked into Yaniv’s home, he greeted us warmly and invited us to have a cold drink while he related his story. He had been upstairs in his home when the alarm sounded. His wife and infant daughter rushed down into the protected room, but Yaniv didn’t make it that quickly. The rocket hit the front garden of the home, severely damaging the front wall, blowing in the front door, and spraying shrapnel all over the area. One piece of shrapnel hit a heating gas canister outside the house causing the gas to escape. Another piece rolled along the stonework at the front doorstep, causing sparks. The leaking gas exploded into the house, completely destroying what was left of the front wall, causing serious damage to the inside of the front of the house, and seriously burning Yaniv as he came running down the stairs. “I heard my wife screaming, and I thought she was still in the living room, so I kept running downstairs to help her. If I had gone back up, I might not have been hurt at all.” Yaniv followed the sounds of the screams and realized that they were already in the
safe room. When he came in, the house and the room were full of smoke, and his wife was lying on top of the baby covering her. Yaniv opened the window and smashed his elbow through the shades so that they could escape the room. “I didn’t realize then that my elbow had been severely burned,” he says. He got his wife and daughter out of the house and then climbed out himself. “My shirt tore on the edge of the window, and that’s when my wife realized how badly I had been burned.” But still he did not stop. He dragged his wife and daughter over several fences until they reached the cross street down the block, where they encountered the security forces. “They told me to look at myself, and that’s when I realized the damage that had been done.” Through a miraculous and almost heroic recovery, Yaniv has been able to regain almost the full use of his arm and leg, and says that his belief in Divine Providence has been strengthened greatly. “Everything that happens is for the good. Today, I have decided to walk with my head up and to overcome my injuries. I have lost a lot, but I have gained much more. And when people see me, and they think that after all I have gone through I can still hold my head high, smile, laugh, and enjoy life, that gives other people the strength to hold their heads a little higher also.” The Konigsbergs were deeply moved by Yaniv’s bravery and determination, and Yaniv was touched by their show of support. Sderot is a small town on the periphery of Israel. It’s not the kind of place that gets a lot of visitors, so for Yaniv and the other families we visited that day, the fact that the Konigsbergs had come all the way to Sderot to stand with them even as the missiles continued to fall, meant a great deal. From Yaniv’s house, we went to the Sderot police station, where we were shown racks upon racks of spent Kassam shells. There are literally hundreds of shells sitting there on display, each one of them labeled with the date and place where it landed. And these are just from the past 15 months or so. The rest have already been removed to storage. While we were looking at the shells, including the one that had hit the house that morning, we heard the repeated cry of “Code Red” from loudspeakers throughout the city. We all ran inside for cover. The Konigsbergs immediately took out Tehillim – books of Psalms – and started uttering prayers for the safety of the people in the city. After about 20 seconds, the all clear was sounded, and we started to relax a little. The prayers continued, and several of us began watching how the police officers at the duty desk handled the emergency. One officer was controlling the incoming information, repeating out loud everything she heard, while another was directing officers, ambulance crews and firefighters to the scene of the rocket strike a few blocks away. At one point, one of them shouted the address, and we quickly realized that the preschool teacher’s house had been hit. We had spoken to her barely two hours earlier, and then visited her brother across the street from her house. We had been right there half an hour ago, and now emergency crews were converging on the same spot. We immediately called Yaniv to see if he was okay. He told us that he was fine. He was shaking, but he was okay. His sister’s house across the street had been hit, but the missile again did thankfully little damage. It blew off some of the roof shingles, but nothing else it seemed, and Zehava had not yet come home. No one was hurt. But Zehava had described it best earlier in the day. “You never know where the next one will hit or who will be affected.” And today, she has to allay the fears of the two dozen children in her care. We began to breathe a sigh of relief when the alarm sounded again. Three more missiles had been fired at Sderot. Several more police officers went running for their cars and left, not even knowing where they were going, but knowing they had to get there fast. One of them radioed into the dispatcher for directions. “Turn right on Yechezkel street, go past Shula’s house, then turn left, go past Itzik’s house, and then take the right after the carpenter’s house. That’s the street, number 18.” For a minute, I just stood there. Then I started laughing. As I explained to the Konigsbergs what the dispatcher had just said, they smiled as well. The police officers in the room just looked at us and couldn’t understand how funny it was. Sderot is a city of 25,000 very frightened people. But with all of the fear, with the constant tension, it is a city where everyone knows everyone else. It is a place where it is easier to give directions by pointing out people’s houses than by using street names. It is a city where someone like Nana Engel can visit Yaniv or Zehava and they know that whatever she says is from the heart and is only meant to help. And it is a city where the idea that we are all One Family is the principal way of life. By Yehuda Poch, Director of Communications for the OneFamily Fund One Family is a charity that provides aid to the families of terror victims in so many ways. Please go to their site and take and consider adding them to your Tzedaka list. You can find their home page by clicking here
CEO, Sderot and Western Negev Regional News Service
Sderot Information Center for the Western Negev Ltd “Over 250,000 Israelis now live under the threat of the kassam missiles”- Head of Israeli Military Intelligence to the Israel Knesset Parliament Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Jan.1st, 2008 Since the first day of January until today, January 20th, over 430 Kassam missiles and mortars were launched towards Sderot, the Western Negev and Ashkelon , according to the IDF spokesman. In 2007, over 2300 missiles and mortars were launched towards Israel from Gaza . How many thousands of kassam missiles will be launched in the year 2008 towards Israel? Living through 200 rockets in the past few days launched towards Sderot…Hearing the screeching siren- “Red Color- Tseva Adom’ every time a rocket is launched… Running for cover in the 15 seconds left… Hearing the whistle, and a few seconds later an enormous explosion…And listening to that laconic newscast on the Voice of Israel …“No Damage, No Injuries, a few were treated for shock”… this is Sderot reality. Watching a 5 year old boy who was crying after he saw his mother blown away from the explosion of a kassam that hit directly into his play room, where he was playing on his computer with his 5 year old neighbor… Witnessing both boys evacuated to the ambulance, both shivering with shock…this is Sderot reality. 190,000 are under the threat of these missiles today, including Ashkelon , Netivot and 20 Kibbutzim and Moshavim.45,000 Israelis are daily bombarded by these missiles. Officially 20,000 residents, of a normal population of close to 24,000, are left in Sderot, although there are those who say that it is probably less than 17,000 residents. Each and every resident has experienced an explosion of a rocketmissile in the past few years… this is Sderot reality. The feeling of helplessness once the siren goes off, seeing young soldiers who were sent to ‘protect’ Sderot running and covering the heads with their hands, their weapons useless…Feeling that my only weapon is my video-camera to try and document this weird reality so that some one would be willing to watch and listen… this is Sderot reality. Driving around Sderot, with no seat-belt because the seconds spent unfastening it might cost me my life… hearing the siren go off, jumping out of the car and running for cover to the closest bus stop shelter, while holding the hands of a grandmother and her grandchild, until we reach the bus stop, which is already crowded with parents and their children on their way to school…this is Sderot reality. Trying not to panic in front of the children, thinking to myself that a direct hit on this bus stop would be a death trap since only 2 months ago there was an investigative report showing bus stopsbomb shelters are not qualified as bomb shelters since they are built with only 20 centimeters thickness of cement, when the requirement is 40 centimeters to withstand a direct hit. And now there are 52 lethal bus stop shelters like these scattered around the town where dozens of people take cover from the missiles…this is Sderot reality 10 missiles exploded in Sderot on Thursday morning, while children were on their way to school and kindergarten. My younger sister Liora, who moved to Sderot to work with the children, described their panic. As they ran to the shelter she grabbed three young children and escorted them to the safe room and started to sing out loud so they wouldn’t hear the missile exploding near by… That safe room contained over 25 children. This was their only activity room where in the past few days they have been spending their playtime…For safety, they are not allowed to play outside. This is Sderot reality. Hearing from families I know, as they all sleep together with parents and children in one bed, with the fear of the siren going off and no shelter to run to, since 752 homes in Sderot have no shelter or safe room… this is Sderot reality. This past Friday. the 18th of January, there was a memorial in Sderot’s cemetery, for Ella Abukasis, who was murdered when she was only 17, three years ago, by a direct hit from a kassam rocket that hit her as she huddled over her younger brother, who was 11 years old at the time… this is Sderot reality. Will there be any ending to this terrorism of missiles being launched towards civilian neighborhoods? How can Israel defend its own citizens, with out being condemned, when 97 percent of the targets of Gazan missiles hit our civilian population, while the Gazans fire their missiles from behind the human shields of their own civilian population? What about the hundreds of tunnels dug beneath the “Philadelphi corridor” in which Egypt routinely delivers ammunition, army equipment, terrorists and cash to Gaza ? When will Israel hold Egypt and these Palestinian terror leaders personally responsible for the suffering of the people of Sderot? When will Sderot reality change?
Now are you ready for this sickness. There is actually a UN Resolution brewing CONDONING the rocket attacks on Sedrot. Click here to go to Atlas Shrugs and learn how to fight back TAKE ACTION: Urge World Leaders: Oppose UN Resolution Condoning Hamas Rocket Attacks