Close to 50 Kassam rockets have been fired in and around the city in the past 72 hours. In response, IDF helicopters targeted Islamic Jihad terrorists and fired missiles at empty buildings in Gaza City and Khan Younis.
“If you ask me – it is not enough,” Sderot Mayor Eli Muyal told Israel National TV’s Mark Kaplan. “It is not the reaction I expected. I told the Prime Minister that we can withstand any terror attack by the Palestinians, but that we cannot accept and withstand the fact that the Israeli government doesn’t react properly.”
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“We were driving and we saw fragments of Kassam rockets on the road,” a Magen David Adom volunteer told Kaplan. “We got out, and after that a rain of Kassam rockets began to fall around us - one, two, three, four [gestures with hands at the close proximity of the rockets –ed.]. We dropped to the ground – we were unable to do anything. Then we heard someone screaming that a woman was wounded. We needed to help her, but I was frozen and afraid to move because every time I moved another Kassam fell next to me. My face was wounded, but I didn’t notice because of the pressure. My friend was also wounded in the head by shrapnel. Finally an ambulance came and evacuated us, together with the woman.”
Longtime Sderot resident Sasson Sarah has seen plenty of Kassam rockets fall on his town. “This is the first time that the Kassams have fallen with such intensity,” he said. “I timed it - in seven minutes, ten rockets fell. This is a record. The government said that if there would be Disengagement - then there would be quiet with [PA chairman] Mahmoud Abbas. I said then and I say now that the only difference between the terrorist Arafat and the terrorist Abbas is that one wore a khaffiya and the other wears a suit.”
Four Sderot residents have been killed by Kassam rockets and scores injured in recent years. The father of Ella Aboukasis, the teenager killed by a Kassam rocket last January, spoke with Army Radio’s Amit Segal about the difficulty of life in Sderot since the withdrawal from Gaza.
"Nothing has been done to protect us," Aboukasis said. "Now they have left Gaza and my 12-year-old son, Tamir, who has been seeing a psychologist since his sister was killed protecting him, is now paralyzed by fear all over again."
"We had to sit in the bomb shelters all Sabbath - it felt like war," Tamir told Segal, who asked to speak with him. "It all came back to me – it is happening all over again."
Dr. Yossi Beilin, head of the far-left Meretz-Yahad Party, addressed a rally in Jerusalem’s Paris Square Saturday night. He called upon the government to offer no response to the rocket fire. “Do not fall into Hamas’ trap,” he said, calling upon Israel to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) instead.
Attorney Irving Gendelman, a Jerusalem lawyer active in issues relating to basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, wrote a scathing letter to Sharon-spokesman Raanan Gissin in response to the spokesman’s defense of the government’s treatment of the bombardment of Sderot.
“No Government of honor and respect would permit this continued betrayal of its citizens as its cities are shelled by hostile forces,” Gendelman wrote. “This regrettably has been symptomatic of the Sharon Government in terms of every Arab attack on Israel. Israel responds only with harsh words or bombardment of empty buildings.”
Gissin, appearing on the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s English-language nightly news program, had claimed that since Israel withdrew from Gaza, the area that now needs to be defended has been reduced, thus ensuring a better defensive position for Israel.
“The fact that the area now to be defended by Israel has been lessened by virtue of the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif has the same logic that we should give up more of our Homeland and infrastructure until there will eventually be no need to defend our country because there will be no country,” Gendelman concluded.