‘Post’ visits victims devastated by rockets

'Post' interviews residents of the South, Center living in terror of rockets from Gaza.

November 23, 2012 01:10
4 minute read.
Rocket-damaged Kiryat Malachi home

Rocket-damaged Kiryat Malachi home. (photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)


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With her son and grandson still suffering from serious injuries sustained in the rocket attack that killed her daughter-in-law and two other Israelis in Kiryat Malachi last week, Chaya Sarah Scharf expressed serious disapproval of the cease-fire reached between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday night.

“It was a mistake to do this. There were times in the past when we agreed to a cease-fire and we got to where we are now. Every time we reach a cease-fire they just rebuild their power even more and become even stronger. We should finish it off once and for all, and go in and finish it like we were supposed to.”

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Over the course of the last week-and-a-half The Jerusalem Post has spoken to and interviewed dozens of residents of the South of Israel and the Center, living in terror of the rockets from Gaza and desperate for a solution that would ensure some peace.

The day after the cease-fire was announced, they spoke of relief at the end of the rocket fire for now, but with deep skepticism that the rockets would not begin striking the Israeli home front again in the near future.

Varda Gordstein, a resident of a small community in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, was working in the regional council’s situation room on a day of heavy rocket fire last Sunday, a few days before Operation Pillar of Defense began.

On Thursday, the relief could be heard in her voice, mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

“Things are quiet now so we’re happy, but we still haven’t gotten back to normal life yet. There are still families that haven’t returned to their homes and children are still staying within 15 seconds of their safe rooms.”

When asked what she thought of the cease-fire she said “I won’t be happy yet with the ending of the operation because for us it’s not over yet. Time will tell if it holds, but in the meantime, I’m not sure what I think about it.”

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Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak resident Ronit Minaker serves as a spokeswoman for the Eshkol Regional Council, and during the war was a sort of one-woman news ticker, sending out reams of text messages daily about mortars and rockets fired at the towns of the Gaza envelope. As someone who has lived in the shadow of the rocket threat for the past decade, Minaker also was skeptical about the cease-fire.

“The cease-fire will have to prove itself over time and only the reality will prove whether or not the it is real.”

Minaker said for her a ceasefire doesn’t refer just to the past week, but the past 12 years of cross-border attacks and rockets from Gaza.

“The problem isn’t this past week, it’s the ongoing fire at civilians and yellow school buses and towns over these past 12 years,” Minaker said, adding that the cease-fire will be judged by the test of time.

“At the moment they fire the first mortar at us in the Gaza envelope, we’ll know what to think of the ceasefire, it doesn’t have to be a rocket on Tel Aviv. Then we’ll see if Israel will respond or just take daily fire on its civilians and not respond like we have up until now. If we don’t respond to the first rocket strike, we’ll see rockets on Tel Aviv again.”

On Wednesday of this week, Amira Castro, 56, was taken to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital suffering from a severe attack of shock after witnessing the bus bombing that took place in the city earlier in the day. Later that day she spoke of the need for a large-scale IDF ground operation in Gaza, even though she has four sons serving in combat units who could be called to the front line. Perhaps unsurprisingly, on Thursday, she did not express glowing reviews of the cease-fire.

“I’m not satisfied with this. It’s only for a short time and they’ll rebuild and attack us again. Every time there’s a cease-fire they just come back stronger and stronger.”

She added, “once we were surprised when they managed to hit Ashkelon, now they’ve hit Tel Aviv and they just get more powerful. We don’t have any security in Israel and the state has to do something – we have to send our kids in to clean out their weapon stores and deal with them like we’re supposed to.”

Castro spoke to the Post just after waking up from taking sleeping pills the night before given to her by doctors at the hospital. When asked to sum up the cease-fire, she said “it’s like a sleeping pill, I helps you rest for a short period of time, but that’s all.”

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