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Photo by: BEN HARTMAN
In Tel Aviv shantytown of Kfar Shalem, residents are vulnerable to rocket fire
By BEN HARTMAN
07/17/2014
Residents went outside and looked to the sky to see Iron Dome interception, so they'd know which way to run from falling shrapnel.
 
When the siren went off on Wednesday morning in the ramshackle south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Kfar Shalem, residents did what they always do – they went outside and looked to the sky to see the Iron Dome interception, so they’d know which way to run from the falling shrapnel.

The meter-long rocket chunk that fell from the interception crashed through the roof of a house into the bedroom where one of the residents, Karina, had been sleeping when the siren went off.

Standing in her yard, she said she managed to make her way out and lie face down on the ground outside and wait for the boom, adding that she has nothing else to do when the siren goes off.

Residents said the neighborhood has no public bomb shelter, and that all of the houses are single level, ramshackle buildings with wood or tin roofs, with no stairwell to seek protection in. They said that the least the city or the government should do is to place a few freestanding concrete bomb shelters in vacant lots in the neighborhood, much like the state and private donors have done in places such as Ofakim and Sderot in the South.

The neighborhood is for all intents and purposes a shantytown - full of many legally and illegally-built houses with little working infrastructure. In a sort of inverse logic, the residents have found that the best way to protect themselves is to do the opposite of Home Front command instructions, and to leave their fragile houses and watch the path of the rocket, in order to know which way to run.

Just two doors down from Karina, irate neighbor Sagi Angel said the neighborhood lacks even the most basic protection and that tragedy was narrowly averted on Wednesday morning.

“We have nowhere to hide, all of the houses are very old and there are no shelters here. The only thing we do is to go outside, we don’t even lay down, we stand up and see which way it’s falling, so we know where to run,” he said.

Angel added that the interception on Wednesday was extra low and louder than others he’d heard during Operation Protective Edge.

“The city knows we have no protection, they know where have nowhere to run. All they have to do is put a little migunit [concrete bomb shelter] here, it would cost very little,” he said.

Angel said he was told by city inspectors on Wednesday that as squatters, the neighborhood’s residents are not able to get protection.

In a response sent out on Wednesday to the claims made by residents, Tel Aviv City Hall said that it sent property- insurance inspectors to the site and that the roof would be repaired by the end of the day. It said that it is providing the residents with all of the protective services it can offer, and that people must continue to heed the advice of the Home Front Command, adding, “When there’s a siren, run for the most protective place there is.
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