With Kassams continuing to rain down upon Sderot and environs - three more were fired Tuesday morning, causing no damage - it appears that the public is just as confused about what to do as the government is.
In a poll taken this week for the Knesset TV Channel, 78% of the public opined that the government was not responding forcefully enough to the Kassam-firing terrorists in Gaza. However, at the same time, a majority of the respondents still feel that ground forces should not be sent in.
It should be noted that the poll was carried out before the Kassam-caused death of Shir'el Friedman of Sderot Monday night.
Kassam Victim's Funeral at Noon
Shir'el, who was born in Sderot and is survived by her parents and two older brothers, is to be laid to rest in the Sderot cemetery at noon today (Tuesday).
Shir'el was Israel's ninth fatal casualty of a Kassam rocket. Mordechai Yosifov, 49, and Afik Zahavi, a 3.5 year old on his way to nursery, were killed in June 2004. Three months later, two young cousins - Dorit Aniso, 2, and Yuval Abebeh, 4 - were killed just before the onset of the Sukkot holiday. Four months later, Ella Abukasis, 17, was killed by a Kassam rocket as she was walking home; she jumped to protect her brother when the Red Dawn rocket warning alert sounded. In July 2005, Dana Gelkowitz, 22, was killed in a Kassam attack at Netiv HaAsarah - the only non-Sderot Kassam casualty among Israelis. Last summer, in July 2006, Moshe Shlomo, 52, died of a heart attack he suffered after a Kassam rocket landed near his home a few days earlier. Last November, Fatima Slutzker, a Moslem woman married to a Russian Jew, was killed by a Kassam that landed in downtown Sderot.
In addition, three foreign workers were killed in a Kassam attack in Gush Katif in 2005, and two Bedouin were killed when they moved a previously-unexploded Kassam in a field.
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In terms of monetary damage caused by the rockets, it is not limited to an apartment or a car here and there. Wheat fields in at least two agricultural communities in the western Negev, nearly ready for harvest after months of work, have gone up in flames when rockets hit them. "I sat and cried this morning when I saw it," said one member of Kibbutz Nir-Am, just outside Sderot.
"This is our harvest season," Betty Gavri of Nir-Am told Ynet. "When you hear on the radio 'no one was hurt and there was no damage' - when our wheat fields go up in flames on the eve of Shavuot, that's not damage?"
The holiday of Shavuot, which begins tonight (Tuesday night and Wednesday), is known as the Festival of Harvest (Exodus 23,16).
As opposed to the city of Sderot, the nearby agricultural communities have a more earthy connection to the land; barely any of the 350 residents of Kibbutz Nir-Am, for instance, have left. "Our imbibed values are that our very presence here determines the State's borders. This is an agricultural tradition, that says that the land is our roots and our sustenance. If everyone would get up and leave, we could just close the entire country."
Rabbis and Educators Call for Social, Military Help
A group of some 100 rabbis and educators, many of them representing hesder yeshivot and yeshiva high schools around the country, descended upon the Yeshivat Hesder of Sderot on Monday to show their solidarity with the city residents.
Among the participants were Rabbis Chaim Druckman, Chanan Porat, Tsomet Institute head Yisrael Rosenne, Yigal Kaminetzky of Gush Katif, Elisha Vishlitzky, David Fendel of Sderot, and Eliezer Sheinvald of Modiin, as well as Col. (ret.) Geva Rapp of the 'Face to Face' outreach organization.
The rabbis resolved to continue activities such as hosting Sderot residents in their towns and schools, further visits to Sderot, offering economic and social help to needy families, special Sabbath and other events around the country dedicated to Sderot, and more.
In addition, the educators called "upon the Government of Israel to end this national disgrace of the abandonment of Jewish lives in Sderot and the area, by embarking on another Operation Defensive Shield [i.e., a massive military anti-terror offensive] in order to restore the self-respect and the security of the residents of Sderot.
To this end, the group resolved to embark on a campaign, including billboards, bumper stickers, rallies, and the like to garner public support for the cause.
Other visitors to Sderot on Monday included Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny, the European Union's Javier Solana, and Britain's Ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips.
The Home Front Command distributed pamphlets to many communities in the Sderot-Ashkelon area, advising the residents how to protect themselves during Kassam attacks. Among those who received them were 500 expellee families from Gush Katif, currently living in Nitzan, just north of Ashkelon.
For more information on Sderot, see the Yeshivat Sderot and Sderotmedia websites.