The latest bombardment on Sderot and surrounding Gaza Belt areas from Hamas-controlled Gaza has finally woken up foreign media, possibly a sign that Israel can deliver a powerful military message to Hamas without the usual one-sided media condemnation.
The firing of more than 150 rockets, missiles and mortar shells in the past four days has brought out the same tepid military response and the same political promises to punish Hamas that Western Negev residents have heard since the beginning of the attacks 12 years ago.
"For 12 years, we've been living with the threat of rockets. This has to stop," Sderot Mayor David Bouskila told AFP Sunday. He has said the same thing dozens of times, but usually to Israeli media.
Although AFP still refers to terrorists as “militants,” the tone of its report is far different from previous articles by it and other foreign news agencies, who usually do not hesitate to lead readers to believe that Israeli retaliation and the alleged “siege” on Gaza are the reasons for rocket firing on Israeli civilians.
This time, instead of focusing on Hamas spokesmen’s stories, usually fabricated, of Israeli attacks on the elderly, mental retarded children and pregnant women, AFP delved into the day-to-day trauma that Sderot’s 20,000 residents have suffered for more than a decade.
“The missiles cause relatively few casualties, but leave more than a million Israelis in the line of fire, with the permanent weight of the next round of violence on their shoulders,” the French-based news agency reported.
“Each siren that sounds gives residents just 15 seconds to find a way to the nearest shelter. For some, it isn't enough time, and they are left to seek shelter where they can.”
It quoted a café owner in Sderot, who said, "I'm used to the [rocket] fire, but this morning when I had to lie on top of my seven-year-old daughter to protect her during an alert, I felt fear and I can't take a little girl trembling on her way to school.”
Kinneret Matok, 24, told the news agency that she was in a hair salon on Sunday prior to her wedding, but a siren warning of an incoming rocket forced her to flee for a bomb shelter.
"Bibi, what are you doing? Why does a young woman have to run to the shelters on her wedding day?" salon-owner Karin Radetsky asked. "I hope it will calm down and that the 500 people invited will be able to make it, but above all that we won't be forced to delay the party," she said.
As usual after a bombardment, the IDF attacked a terrorist tunnel, weapons storage site and a terrorist tunnel, although there are hundreds if not thousands of them in Gaza.
Politicians went through the same routine of saying that Israel must stop the terror.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited Sderot "to express... support but also to send a clear message to terrorists: They will pay a heavy price!"
Mayor Bouskila has heard the message hundreds of times and replied, "These comments are not enough, we need actions. It's shameful for the state of Israel that the lives of its citizens are dictated by terrorists.”