Damaged caused to home by Grad rocket 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Sderot Media Center)
It took me 20 minutes to drive to Ashdod from Tel Aviv on Sunday morning, two
days after the former was hit by seven Grad missiles fired from Hamas-controlled
Gaza. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, over 100 rockets and
mortars were fired toward Israel since Friday August 19.
As has been my
practice in Sderot for the past five years, my car windows were rolled down and
the radio was turned down so I could hear the siren that would give me and
everyone else 45 seconds to find a safe place. On the bright side, 45 seconds to
run for your life in Ashdod is an improvement over the 15 seconds you have in
The news announced burial plans for 38-year-old Yossi Ben-Sasson,
who was killed by a Grad missile the night before in Beersheba when taking his
nine-months-pregnant wife for a medical check up. The following news item was
about a young woman fighting for her life at the Soroka hospital, also a victim
of a Grad strike in Beersheba.
I arrived at Admor Me’gor street in
Ashdod, where only a few days before a Grad missile had exploded within range of
900 yeshiva students and high school kids who were beginning their school
Yakkov Bozaglo, 56, who was taking shelter from the Friday morning
Grad attack, described the huge explosion and the scene, with three men
seriously injured as they left their small synagogue; how they were treated for
shrapnel wounds on the spot, while thanking God that the high school and
elementary students were set to arrive 15 minutes later.
I then drove to
the next scene, where a missile had penetrated three meters of sand, burrowing
into a ditch between two synagogues, causing damage, but leaving all the holy
books and the Ark with its Torah scroll unscathed.
Ariel Zeldman, 26, who
came to see his synagogue, where he prayed during the attack, described how
everyone ran outside and crossed the street to the seven-floor apartment
building to take cover. Ariel described how he held the hand of an elderly man
who only made it halfway to the shelter and was injured by
Leaving Ashdod and driving south toward Sderot, I saw a signpost
on Route 4, next to Nitzan’s tent city encampment, screaming: “Six years! Until
The tents and signs depict the plight of Jewish residents from Gush
Katif who have been living in refugee-style conditions since the IDF pulled all
civilians and military personnel out of Gaza in August 2005.
ago, these and other Gush Katif residents pleaded their case to the government
and the media, warning that missiles would reach Ashdod if they and the IDF left
Gaza. Today, they point out that the 60-km range of Iranian Grad missiles in
Gaza can easily reach tent encampments on Rothschild Boulevard in
Tel-Aviv. The former Gaza residents are genuinely concerned about attacks
on other Israeli communities, even though the leaders of the Tel Aviv encampment
likely favored the forced expulsion of Jews from Gaza.
As the Internet
site News1 headlined on Saturday night, one million Israelis in a 40-km radius
around Gaza are now within missile range.
While Iron Dome batteries have
been erected near Beersheba and Ashkelon, Ofakim and other Israeli communities
can only dream of having a battery. Ofakim, a development town 20 km from
Gaza with a population of 30,000, was hit Saturday night by a Grad missile that
exploded directly into the Amoyal family’s home. The rocket left the house
completely destroyed – something I hadn’t seen in five years of documenting
Kassam attacks on Sderot. I saw brick walls, up to 20 centimeters thick, crushed
and blown into the kitchen, demolishing four rooms and leaving 25-year-old Kfir
Amoyal shivering alone in his bedroom, suffering from shock and light
Attacks from Gaza, and Israel’s targeted responses, will continue
for the foreseeable future. To our dismay, global media will continue to focus
on Israel’s responses while ignoring the terrorists’ actions and constant
declarations of their intention to wipe us out.
In addition to our
remarkable military capabilities, Israel needs a policy corollary to the Iron
Dome when it comes to dealing with the driving force behind the Gaza terror
regime and its counterparts in other parts of the country.
deal with the root of the problem, and not waste time debating which town to
protect; or continue throwing money into complex and expensive technology that
will, at best, only prevent a small percentage of rockets from reaching their
targets.The writer is director of the Sderot Media Center.