Sderot residents gathered outside the Knesset on Wednesday afternoon to protest the government's poor security provisions after another week of heavy Kassam attacks and no military response.
Parents were calling for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation and carrying hand-painted signs saying, "The Knesset never gets hit by Kassams." They fed their young children popsicles before allowing them to climb atop mounds of construction rubble to shout towards Olmert's office that they no longer want him or the rockets.
The protest was organized by the Committee for a Secure Sderot - an apolitical group that lobbies for improved security in Sderot and provides services to the community.
The protest included a boycott of the Sderot municipality's educational system, following a Kassam attack near a busy nursery school on Monday.
"[Hamas] is accurate enough to hit our preschool over and over again...they're targeting our children," said Dov Dalin, 24, a student at Sapir College who lives in Sderot. "I sleep on the floor instead of in my bed. I don't live a normal life. I live in a war zone."
Gilad Sabag, 18, attends high school in Sderot. This past Sunday, he should have returned to school like the rest of students across the country, but instead he recalled a very different scene.
"From 5 a.m., the Kassams were falling without stop," he recalled. "People were screaming and running - but nobody cared. I was afraid to get hit. My school isn't secure; I feel it and I know it."
Though school has been in session for five days, Sderot students have attended less than one full day of classes, Sderot Municipality spokesman Yosef Pinhas Cohen told The Jerusalem Post during the demonstration.
According to Cohen, seven Kassams struck Sderot during the Monday morning commute. "We had small children on the way to school and they didn't know what to do. It's impossible to learn," Cohen said. He echoed a common sentiment among Sderot parents that the actual security of the school buildings is not the main issue; rather, it is the fact that the children must leave the relative safety of their homes to go to school.
When asked if schools would reopen on Thursday, Cohen could only reply "Maybe yes, maybe no," and explained that most parents were trying to take their children out of the city altogether.
Chana Melul, a Sderot mother of three young children, should have seen her oldest child attend his first day of first grade on Sunday.
"It's a very, very sad thing for me. All of my enthusiasm for taking him to his first day of school is gone. I missed it," sighed Melul.
Instead, she and her children awoke at 5:30 in the morning to the sound of the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) Kassam warning siren.
"Usually I am awake to take care of my kids, but this time I was awake because of the Kassams. My youngest child said to me, 'Mommy, now I need water because I have to relax after the siren.' It's not normal. They haven't been on a playground in more than a year," lamented Melul.
When Sderot schools reopen, Melul believes she will allow her child to go. "I will take him because I want him to feel like he has a routine life," she said.