The upgraded Kassam rocket on Sderot Saturday night scored a direct hit on the ceiling of a children's hydrotherapy rehabilitation center in the heart of Sderot's Sapir College, bringing to nearly 400 the number aerial attacks launched from Gaza since the ceasefire which halted Israel's Cast Lead counter-terror campaign in Gaza in January 2009.
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The Saturday night Kassam attack followed the explosion of a Iranian Grad missile that hit the city of Ashkelon Friday morning. Hamas-controlled Gaza has targeted Ashkelon, with a population of 125,000 Israelis, since March 2008.
The child hydrotherapy rehabilitation center at Sderot's Sapir College provides therapy and workshops for special-needs children who live in the Western Negev and is used by children from the entire country.
The facility was totally decimated.
Our crew arrived at the destroyed Children's Center hours after the attack, and heard an IDF Home Front Command officer estimate the carnage from the upgraded Kassam rockets.
While the crew filmed, a child care worker arrived at the destroyed office and was overwhelmed with emotion as the sight of the devastation. She walked through the rubble that had been her office the day before and, looking through the mess, she picked up a photo of her two children that had been hanging on the wall the day before. The child care worker was in a state of shock. On any other day, a catastrophe would have taken place, killing all the children at the center. During weekdays, the Center is packed with hundreds of children and therapists before it closes at 10 p.m..
This missile hit not far from where Sapir student Roni Yechiah was blown to bits on February 27, 2008.
In this present-day surreal situation, it does not matter that a catastrophe was prevented in our region, because as long there are no casualties, it doesn’t stay very long in the headlines and, in the eyes of the media and the public, the attack was of little importance, coming at the height of summer vacation, when the weather report on the expected high temperature in southern Israel takes precedence over the lethal missiles on southern Israel.
If, indeed, there were children at this rehabilitation center during the Kassam strike, the IDF would have no choice but to re-enter Gaza, and we would then witness the release of thousands of upgraded missiles which can reach Tel Aviv.
Israeli intelligence confirms that that the Hamas regime has now assembled an arsenal of over 5,000 missiles with a range of 40 kilometers [25 miles].
Yet, until there is a human catastrophe which would seemingly justify an appropriate military response, Israel continues to supply the Hamas regime in Gaza with thousands of tons of humanitarian aid, as well as the currency it needs to maintain its enterprise.
It is common knowledge that everyday, items such as sugar and fertilizer are used to manufacture fuel for Kassam rockets. Cement intended for civilian reconstruction is instead used to build and reinforce bunkers and tunnels. Metal intended for use as water pipes and streetlight poles ends up in the rocket manufacturing facilities managed by Hamas.
Israel provides Gaza's electricity, water, and sewage, and constructed the power plants in Ashkelon that provide over 70 percent of Gaza's electricity, which has been a favorite target of the terrorist militants in Gaza.
Ignoring these facts about Hamas, the world holds Israel totally responsible for the Gazan population of 1.4 million.
Yet, exactly five years ago, Israel withdrew its key military and civilian presence from Gaza, giving land for the hope of peace – something that no other democracy in modern history has done.
Noam Bedein is a photojournalist, lecturer and founder/director of Sderot Media Center . He has conducted briefings and tours for government officials, diplomats, foreign press, and students from around the world.