Daily Israel Report

Four Kassams Wednesday, One So Far Thursday

Despite perceived wave of quiet in Sderot and Negev, five Kassams have hit the area in 24 hours - amidst an emergency meeting of local residents.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/7/2007, 12:03 PM

Despite a perceived wave of quiet in Sderot and the Negev, five Kassams have hit the area in 24 hours - amidst an emergency meeting of local residents. Jews from around the country are pitching in to help Sderot.

One or two Kassam rockets landed in the Sderot area Wednesday afternoon, causing no damage. Two more also landed near Sderot Wednesday night, and another one Thursday morning, similarly causing no damage. The "Color Red" warning alarm system, giving residents 15 seconds to run for cover with no idea as to where the rocket will fall, was sounded before the most recent attack.

On Tuesday night, as well, two rockets were fired towards Sderot; no one was hurt.

Though some residents have returned to Sderot following the two weeks of constant Kassam rocket barrages in which two people were killed, most have not. Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal recently said, "I'm remaining here, even if it's just me, the yeshiva people and the under-privileged who can't afford to leave."

Depressing Downtown
Michael Siman-Tov of Yeshivat Hesder Sderot told Arutz-7, "I went downtown last night and it truly was depressing to see the empty streets and the empty stores. Many of the store-owners are truly suffering, with their businesses simply drying up."

The owner of one store told Siman-Tov that about ten people had come in just that day to ask for boxes in which to pack for their upcoming move out of the city.

The Gaydamak tent-city in Tel Aviv, built during the height of the Kassam barrages, is now closed, but organizers are "on stand-by" in case they are needed again. The tent-city was open for two weeks, until this past Sunday; 1,200 people availed themselves of its services.

Pitching in Around the Country
Though rocket attacks at the city have diminished somewhat, many Israelis around the country are still trying to help their beleaguered compatriots in Sderot. Arutz Sheva is launching a Sderot Solidarity Week beginning this Sunday, June 10th, with a bus trip to the town departing from Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem at 8:30am. Click here to sign up.

Also on Sunday, Arutz Sheva's IsraelNationalRadio will broadcast on its live stream a special 12-hour broadcast from Sderot which will also include call-in pledges to benefit the Sderot Hesder Yeshiva's Hand-in-Hand Project. In the framework of Hand-in-Hand, the local yeshiva students are going house to house, encouraging, supporting, and most importantly discovering special needs of residents and addressing them with the funds at their disposal.

A dozen carloads of people from the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem set off together Wednesday night to do their pre-Sabbath shopping in Sderot. "We found a store in Sderot," Yair Singer of Har Homa told Arutz-7, "and when we all piled in, the store-owner was thrilled. He even made a welcome sign for us! But we saw that the place was practically empty without us - on a night that we were told is usually packed with shoppers."

A similar effort was arranged by people in Beit Shemesh. They gathered together some 12,000 shekels' worth of bakery orders for the Sabbath - and phoned them in to a Sderot bakery. Over the coming two weeks, they plan to do the same with two other Sderot bakeries.

In Beit El, the local Sderot Task Force continues to organize twice-weekly visits to Sderot.  Local organizer Achi Prizent told Arutz-7, "Working with the local Yeshivat Hesder, we send down people with cakes, food, letters and more to the people of Sderot.  We have also given out, here in Beit El, lists of people in Sderot, and people here call them up and just talk to them, expressing their support and solidarity."

Emergency Meeting
Dozens of residents in Kassam-threatened areas - Sderot, Ashkelon, and Gaza-border towns and Kibbutzim - gathered in Sderot Wednesday night for an emergency meeting. Participants represented the various groups working to improve the situation in the area: The Sderot Security Task Force, reserve soldiers, bereaved families, local businessmen, and others.

Long-time area resident MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) was there, as were Maalot Mayor Shlomo Buchbut and retired Generals Yaakov Amidror and Uzi Dayan.

MK Hermesh said that he had just arrived from a Knesset Finance Committee session at which was decided, for the first time in Israeli history, to award compensation for indirect damages caused to businessmen in the wake of the Kassam attacks and the consequent flight of nearly half the population. "A city with no commerce and where people don't go to work in factories will end up being a deserted ghost town," Hermesh said, "and therefore we decided to take this unprecedented move of paying for the lack of profits."

Alon Davidi, who heads the Sderot Security Task Force, spoke of the importance of working together: "Success in this struggle will come from a united and firm stand. When we filed a suit with the Supreme Court demanding reinforcement for the schools, there were those who thought nothing would come of it - but in the end, the Court accepted our position and forced the State to protect our children. We must fight together for our rights, and we will achieve them."

Gen. Uzi Dayan, among the leaders of the calls two months ago for Prime Minister Olmert to resign, said that the problems of Sderot have a military solution: "If protecting Sderot means conquering parts of Gaza, then we must conquer parts of Gaza... Some say that if we enter Gaza, soldiers will be killed; but as it is now, the residents of Sderot are bleeding. It is unacceptable that civilians must take the job designated for the army; the army must protect them, not the other way around. Is the civilians' blood worth less than that of the soldiers?"

Gen. Amidror made a similar point, and added, "We entered Shechem [in 2002] and reduced terror attacks significantly - and we must do the same in Gaza to reduce significantly the Kassam attacks on Sderot... We will stay there as long as is necessary; it depends on the Palestinians."

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Arutz Sheva launches Sderot Solidarity Week this Sunday, June 10th
Solidarity Bus Trip departs from Jerusalem's Binyanei HaUma Sunday at 8:30am
Sign Up for Trip!
Also on Sunday 12-hour Arutz Sheva Radio broadcast and
telethon from Sderot.