Alarm barely shakes Sderot's new 'normalcy'

However, locals pessimistic. "No one thinks the calm will last," one resident says.

By SHELLY PAZ
January 29, 2009 22:46
2 minute read.
Alarm barely shakes Sderot's new 'normalcy'

Kassam damage sderot 248 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Despite the "Color Red" alarm that sounded in Sderot early Thursday morning, patients did not crowd the local trauma center, and the day proceeded relatively normally in the Kassam-weary town. Dr. Adriana Katz, the clinic's manager, said many of the patients were sure they had dreamt the alarm. Tzvia, 58, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder due to the fatal Kassam rocket attack she witnessed four years ago, said that for her, a day that began with a Kassam firing was a wasted day. "I can't function after the siren goes off, and the situation has gotten so bad that my 80-percent disabled husband needs to go out and buy groceries and my daughter-in-law comes to hang the laundry and take it down," Tzvia said. "Sometimes I wish I were dead," she cried. Still, most of Sderot conducted itself on Thursday like a normal small town - at least on the surface. Children went to school, many but not all of the stores opened for business, and the public fortified rooms seemed irrelevant. However, the locals were pessimistic. "No one here thinks it will last. This is the quiet before the storm," said Ayala Lizmi, a young mother who lives in the town. "Now they talk about another war. Unfortunately it will never stop." "To be honest, I don't care anymore if it's quiet or not," said Elinor Abayev, 20, a waitress at the Café To Go. "Anyway, I plan to leave here as soon as I save enough money. Life here is not normal, and everyone is pessimistic about whether it will ever be normal. The war only clarified to more people how it feels to live under rocket attacks, but that's all it achieved." Regardless, normalcy managed to sneak in: The streets seemed more full than usual, ads for the national elections offered a sense of the day-to-day, and the soldiers who remained in the area found time to play soccer and host cadets at their improvised military base. Even a group of Jewish leaders from North America, eager to visit the famous Kassam-beaten town, found the place a bit sleepy. They were taken on the regular tour, which includes meeting with local public figures, a peek at the pile of salvaged rockets at the Police station and a visit to some of the recently attacked houses. "I found that the people of Sderot are not [so much] pessimistic as uncertain about the results of the military operation in Gaza and whether it will eliminate the rocket attacks for good," said Alan Solow, chairman of the Jewish Community Center Association and head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Ofer Shmerling, the owner of a restaurant in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and a familiar voice of optimism in the area, said he believed the Gaza offensive had been effective. "Now they [Hamas] know that Israel will react to any attack that breaks the truce," Shmerling said, referring to Tuesday's bomb attack on an army patrol that left an IDF tracker dead and two of his comrades wounded, and led to an Israeli aerial strike. "The IAF can handle them in seven minutes, and within 15 minutes they are back on the base, having coffee," he said. "They'll learn pretty fast that it doesn't pay to attack the Israeli forces." With a hearty "Am Yisrael Hai!" he went to open his restaurant, where the soldiers like to hang out on their free time.


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