Daily Israel Report

12 Sderot Children Hospitalized for Shock After Kassam Attacks

Twelve Sderot chidlren are in Barzilai hospital suffering from shock following a barrage of Kassam rocket attacks on the second day of school.
By Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 9/3/2007, 10:10 AM

Twelve Sderot children were hospitalized at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon Monday morning in the wake of a barrage of seven Kassam rockets fired by Islamic Jihad terrorists in northern Gaza.

The missiles had slammed into various parts of the city, including one that scored a direct hit on a house next to a day care center. A staff member at the day care center told Army Radio that the director ran into the room to give warning that an attack was underway. None of the staff heard the Color Red alert system that provides a 20-second window in which to seek shelter from attacks.

IDF soldiers raced into the building and carried 15 babies out to safe shelter, despite confident declarations by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a day earlier that all the schools in Sderot were adequately protected against Kassam rockets.

The home next to the daycare center was damaged, but no one was physically wounded. Many people were treated for shock, while others worked to assess the damage wrought by the rockets.

Some parents rushed to pull their children out of school, but in general, classed continued as usual, with teachers attempting to comfort themselves and their pupils.  Tomorrow, however, school may not be held at all, as the Sderot Parents Association says parents will not send their children.

"No one in power seems to care less about us," said the secretary of one school.  "The politicians build themselves shelters, while our children are like sitting ducks.  My 13-year-old son refuses to go to school, and he has to have psychological treatment twice a week - but no one cares.  We practically live inside the shelter, on the ground floor, and my kids can't even take a shower - does anyone care?"

Asked what she would advise the government to do, she said, "They should bomb Gaza from the air!  I don't want to have to live in fortified buildings; let the people in Gaza fortify themselves.  Nor do I want any soldiers to get killed because of us.  An air attack to wipe out all traces of those who have sent us rockets for the last seven years and made our lives unbearable - that's the solution."

Arutz-7 contacted Kadima MK Avigdor Yitzchaki, who was heavily involved in the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in his capacity as Director of former Prime Minister Sharon's Bureau, and asked his opinion on the Sderot/Gaza situation.  Yitzchaki refused to comment.

Seven Kassams
While most parents in Israel were waking their children and having their coffee before rushing off to school and work, three rockets had already slammed into Sderot just before children arrived in their classrooms. All exploded harmlessly in fields on the outskirts of the city and no injuries or damage were reported. The terrorists launched a fourth rocket approximately an hour later, just after the children reached their classrooms.

The fifth Kassam rocket followed a half hour after that, landing on a street in the center of town and scattering residents who raced for the closest shelters and prayed that their children were safe in their schools.  A few minutes later missile Number 6 scored a direct hit on a home located next to a day care center.

The seventh landed in another field, again with no one hurt and no damage was caused -- other than the trauma associated with not knowing when or if the next one will succeed in scoring a direct hit on your home, your family or you. This is a trauma that has destroyed the serenity of Sderot repeatedly for the past seven years.

Various Options
Alon Davidi, of the Sderot Residents Task Force, told Arutz-7, "We are currently worrying about the rockets that have just hit and dealing with their immediate impact.  But later today or tomorrow, we will convene and figure out what we are going to do.  It can't be that we take upon ourselves a great responsibility for this city, by living here and sending our children to school, while Olmert and the government don't take a similar share of responsibility for this story.  Do they want this city to simply be erased? ... We are considering various options."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted Sunday during a visit to an elementary school in Ramla, “The level of fortification in Sderot is sufficient, according to the professional opinion of Home Front officials.”

Olmert added that the government would continue to fortify the schools against the Kassam rockets, however, in accordance with an order by the High Court of Justice.  “We are [also] building 16 new schools that will be fortified,” he promised but gave no timeline for the construction, nor did he say when the government would finish its fortification of the existing school buildings.

Residents say bluntly that the Prime Minister’s claim is simply untrue, conducting tours for reporters and other interested people of the unprotected buildings and numerous shelters that are almost uninhabitable.

The Ministry of Education, at least, acknowledged the dangerous conditions in which children are forced to attend their studies and came up with a different solution: hold classes in bomb shelters this year.