Ashkelon's economy suffers under the shadow of rockets

"Citizens are living in fear," shwarma stand owner said, citing an 8 percent drop in business in recent days. "It's a catastrophe."

Kassam Ashkelon 224.88 (photo credit: )
Kassam Ashkelon 224.88
(photo credit: )
The underground command and control room at the Ashkelon Municipality was packed with visitors when the chilling sound of the air raid siren rang out at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai was in the room, and he was later joined by local industrialists and Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel. The topic of conversation was Ashkelon's economic future, which was looking increasingly bleak. "We see how in Sderot suppliers have stopped arriving," Brosh said. "We fear some factories will have to close [in Ashkelon, too]." He called for state and local funding for rocket protection for factories in the city. Mor Shapira-Shamgar, a local industrialist, called on Yishai to help local factories survive. "We want to keep on working and producing," she said. "We are asking the authorities to provide rocket protection in buildings [and] bus stops, and to provide mobile shelters." Shlomi Mizrahi, the owner of a shwarma stand and three other restaurants in the city, was one of the few business owners who opened his doors on Monday. "We have to survive and pay the bills," he said. "Citizens are living in fear," Mizrahi said, citing an 80 percent drop in business in recent days. "It's a catastrophe."