taxi sherut 88.
(photo credit: )
A Sderot taxi driver saved the lives of a dozen passengers on Tuesday. Upon hearing a warning siren, he stopped next to a reinforced bus stop and quickly discharged his riders, seconds before a rocket hit next to the vehicle.
The shared-taxi (sherut) van was badly damaged, and the rocket would almost certainly have caused casualties, witnesses said.
Though 14 Kassam rockets struck Sderot by Tuesday evening, there were no injuries other than shock.
Around three in the afternoon, the Color Red alert was heard.
The taxi driver, who was about to head to Tel Aviv with a full van, sped a few meters down the block from the taxi station and discharged his passengers near a bus stop built of reinforced concrete, just before the rocket fell nearby.
"He asked us to run to the bus stop fast, and when the last one of us entered it we heard a big explosion," Sderot resident Shai Levy, 27, said soon thereafter.
Levy said he wasn't suffering from shock, but his reactions to the reporters' questions and to his surroundings indicated that he was badly shaken.
"I feel exactly as I feel whenever a Kassam rocket falls near me," he said, "but at least my mother is not here, because she really suffers from it. She starts to sweat and lays on the ground and screams."
Levy changed his mind about going to Tel Aviv.
"It's too late, and if another Kassam falls I want to be near my mother," he said.
Other passengers felt differently.
"Why don't you let us leave here? I want to get to Tel Aviv right away!" one passenger yelled.
Dozens of people arrived at the site to have a look, causing a large commotion.
"We have been suffering from this for the past eight years and we are still suffering from it," said Ya'acov Shoshani, the manager of the taxi station.
He was holding a piece of Kassam shrapnel.
"This is not part of an improvised tool, this cast piece of metal has been made in a big, professional lathe shop. They gave us cast-metal rockets and we gave them Operation Cast Lead," Shoshani said.
Tuesday's multiple alerts were difficult for Sderot residents after a couple of days of relative quiet.
Dr. Adriana Katz, head of the town's Trauma Center, said that over the past two weeks, the number of people who suffering from anxiety and shock had tripled.
"The residents of Sderot and the nearby kibbutzim have handled a lot of pressure for so long," she said.
But more than anything, she said, "for eight years they felt that they didn't have the backing of the government and after so long of facing this reality alone, they finally feel they are getting the support they were waiting for.
"This is why they are willing to put up with this difficult reality, even if it's more intense, just to recover their lives and their pride," Katz said.