Residents Respond with Faith to Internal and External Threats

In one of the worst bombardments of Gush Katif in the past several months, over 40 mortar shells and Kassam rockets have been fired at the area in the past 24 hours.

, | updated: 11:21

The Palestinian terrorist shelling attack began shortly after noon yesterday, with three rockets at Morag and two at N'vei Dekalim. Four more were fired at N'vei Dekalim soon afterwards, and children were kept in their relatively-safer kindergarten and school rooms throughout the afternoon. Israel Air Force helicopters were put into action, firing at and scattering a rocket-launching cell of Arab terrorists operating out of a Khan Yunis cemetery.

An Israeli citizen was lightly wounded from a rocket fired at N'vei Dekalim shortly after 4 PM, and an hour later, two Kassam rockets smashed into Gadid. By midnight, another 16 rockets had been fired at Netzarim, N'vei Dekalim, Kfar Darom and Tel Katifa, and six more by morning. Two buildings were damaged.

The attacks did not end there, however, and another five rockets were fired at Kfar Darom and Tel Katifa this morning. Arab gunmen also fired at a N'vei Dekalim army position this morning.

Aside from the helicopter incident, no further IDF response has been registered, other than an announcement that Israel would respond "in a measured manner" and would seek to avoid escalation. Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz took part in a security consultation on the Gaza escalation this afternoon. IDF sources said that no major counter-offensive is expected before the planned withdrawal.

Several possibilite reasons have been offered for the sudden outburst of Arab firepower in Gaza. These include: the death of a Palestinian terrorist in southern Gaza as he was about to detonate a bomb; Hamas awakening against the PA; and the fear that Israel will in fact not implement the disengagement.

Over 5,500 rockets and missiles have been fired at Gush Katif in the past five years, with relatively few casualties. A constant theme there is the words of the Biblical judge Samson's mother, who calmed her husband's fears by saying, "If G-d wanted to kill us, He would not have accepted [our offerings] and would not have shown us all these things." In a book published last month detailing dozens of miracles that befell Gush Katif residents over this period, the editor states, "We have faith that G-d did not perform all these miracles for us merely so that we could be expelled from our homes."

Moti Sender, a 27-year-veteran of Ganei Tal in Gush Katif, was asked, "What makes you [plural] so strong? How can you keep up your daily routine, so calmly and happily, despite the threats - missiles and expulsion - hanging over your heads?"

"Belief in G-d," he said simply. "Everything is in G-d's hands, and His will is what counts. I sense that this test is directly from Him, and it actually raises us to higher levels. As Rabbi Kaminetzky [the local Chief Rabbi] says, 'It's simply a privilege to live here at this time.' Until now, we have learned about belief - in our yeshiva studies, and when we study Torah and Talmud. But now, we are actually living faith - it is something real, it is taking real shape. It's not easy, but there is a feeling that our faith is getting much stronger, much more concrete. It is a privilege."

"Do these continued attacks ever make you want to take advantage of Sharon's plan and just get out of there?" This question was posed this morning to another resident, Naamah of Gadid, a mother of several children. She responded,
"Look, just like even though tens of people are killed in road accidents every month, you don't think twice about getting in your car and going somewhere. Here, this is all the more true. No one believes that if we leave here, it will improve the country's security situation. This is our land, and our country, and we need to be here. "