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Livnat to Ashkelon children: We will win
By JEREMY SHARON
20/11/2012
Likud minister says residents of the South "a source of strength for the IDF’s operations.”
 
Minister for Culture and Sport Limor Livnat spent much of Monday touring the rocket-hit towns and cities of southern Israel, and dropped in on several children’s entertainment events arranged by her ministry.

In Ashkelon, Livnat paid a visit to the Golden Tower Hotel, where entertainer Tzahi Noy, soloist Yishai Lapidot and several other celebrities performed for the children of Barzilai Hospital workers, who were being looked after in the hotel’s bomb-shelter.

“We will win, don’t be afraid,” Livnat told the children as she danced on stage with the entertainers.

Etti Peretz, a 22-year-old volunteer at the shelter, said she told her employers she would not be working on Monday because she had to take care of the children.

“I prefer to be here, it’s more important,” she said. “We’re trying to make the kids happy and get them to forget what’s going on outside.”

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Li’am, a nine-year-old girl spending the day in the shelter, said she was enjoying herself, “because I can’t hear the sirens and they’re scary, and I worry about my family and cousins when they go off.”

Later in the day, after visiting several spots in the city struck by rockets that day, Livnat praised the residents for their attitude.

She herself had to run for cover a number of times, as sirens sounded across Ashkelon.

“The composure, endurance and support of the residents of the South is a source of strength for the IDF’s operations,” Livnat said.

Speaking about a possible cessation of hostilities, she said that “Hamas needs to understand we’ll only consider a cease-fire if there is total quiet, allowing for complete, long-term security to return to the residents of southern Israel. At the moment, rockets are still flying, so there’s nothing to talk about with regard a cease-fire. If it takes a ground operation to defend Israeli citizens, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Ashkelon bore the brunt of several rocket salvos fired from Gaza during the course of the day, with at least 15 hitting the city. They caused no injuries.

One rocket struck a high school, smashing through a steel-reinforced concrete roof covering a water fountain.

Another hit an apartment complex, with residents taking cover in their stairwells since the buildings lacked rocket-proof safe rooms.

Rachel Rochzer, 51, heard the sirens and grabbed her dog, Bissli, before leaving her apartment and going into the stairwell with her friend Aliza.

“We don’t have any kind of life; it’s war here,” Rochzer said.

“It has to end.”

A separate rocket struck the garden of Mira Buzaglo’s home 2 meters from her cooking gas canisters. They narrowly avoided being blown up.

Buzaglo said she was looking after her five-year-old grandson when the sirens sounded, and took cover with him inside the house. Neither she nor the child were injured, although she was visibly shaken.

Debris from the same rocket smashed the rear window of a car belonging to Buzaglo’s neighbor, Niv Vachnish. The Vachnish home also lacked a safe room, so Niv, his wife Osnat and their four children took cover under their dining room table.

Bar Vachnish, 15, who was not at home at the time, has already survived a close encounter with a Gaza rocket. Four years ago he was in a shopping mall in Ashkelon that sustained a direct hit. He was unhurt, but has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since.

Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that emergency services were working around the clock to respond as quickly as possible.

More than 100 rockets were fired from Gaza on Monday toward the major population centers in the South, including Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other locales. At least 30 of the missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system.

Rosenfeld pointed out that on previous days of Operation Pillar of Defense, the number of daily rockets had been close to 200.
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