Economic costs of Kassams at NIS 60m.

Manufacturers Association of Israel estimates that over 150 employees have abandoned their jobs at manufacturing plants.

kassam smoke 88 (photo credit: )
kassam smoke 88
(photo credit: )
Direct and indirect financial costs of the Kassams falling in Sderot have reached NIS 60 million and over 150 employees have abandoned their jobs at manufacturing plants, the Manufacturers Association of Israel estimated Thursday. "Twenty-five percent of the plants there are transferring their business activities to safer locations," spokesman Avi Karmi told The Jerusalem Post. "The numbers are dismal. Eighty percent suffer from non-arrivals due to the Kassams and there is a sharp decrease in production." The new round of attacks, he said, has been the hardest Sderot has seen recently. "If these attacks continue and the situation is not resolved or the workers are not afforded better protection from the rockets, everything will be affected," he said, referring to the total economic output of Sderot factories. Local businesses are also losing out. The streets of Sderot were empty save the lone taxi or rare shopper. Thursday, a usually bustling day in preparation for Shabbat, found store owners staring at empty shops as they idly waited for someone to come out and buy something. The damage done to the local economy has not been discriminatory. Be it clothing stores, felafel stands or small grocers, the shop owners feel the falling Kassams in their pockets and on their dinner tables. At the Oren Meshi bakery off of the main drag in the center of town, the smell of baking bread was missing. The half-filled shelves and bakers lounging around gave off the sense that business was not as usual. "Before the Kassams started falling again," said Shimrit Ben-Yishai, "people filled our bakery, especially on Thursdays. They came to shop for Shabbat. Now, no one comes. People were afraid to be on the streets. They do not even leave their homes for basic necessities like bread." She gestured to empty store to drive home the point. As striking as the empty stores were the number of shops that were not open at all. By sight, half of the stores were closed and many more pulled down the metal grates across their glass doors as the day progressed. Dana Yona, a student at Saphir College where a Kassam landed Thursday injuring two students, sat idly counting receipts in a makolet. She has lived in Sderot since October and said that she cannot leave because she must continue her studies. "I haven't slept the last two nights," she said, with deep purple bags under her eyes as evidence. Sitting with her head in her hand behind the counter in the empty makolet, she merely looked around at the store, vacant of people, as a response to the question "How is business?" A short walk from the makolet to the mall in town revealed not only the emptiness but the concern of the citizens of Sderot. The few people on the street walked hurriedly. Journalists and soldiers came close to outnumbering the natives, though the shopkeepers standing idly at their doors waiting brought the number close to an even keel. At the ACE Hardware store, four employees sat at the cash register talking. There were no customers. "Business is terrible here," said Sigal Abutbul. "We don't even have 10% of our usual business. "Look," she said, as did the employees at the other stores, "you don't need me to tell you." "I am scared, of course," she continued. "In a few more days, we will have to close this store. But for me, if I do not work my children do not eat. I leave them at home, because school has been cancelled, to come here and wait for customers. I don't know what we will do if the Kassam attacks continue." On the sidewalk in front of the store, there were no people in sight. At a small clothing store, the mood was the same. Four women stood idly by as brightly colored skirts, dresses and shirts designed for this summer season hung on racks with no bodies to clothe. Asia Aronoff and Tanya Korokevitch, in Sedrot for 15 and 10 years, respectively, bemoaned the lack of customers at what should be their busiest time of year. "There is no business," said Aronoff. "Everything is closed. You can't even get a taxi, everyone is so scared. This is my city, but I do not know how much longer we will be able to stay open. "I am scared, too. But I must work despite the risk, because my children must eat." "It is the same every day," said said Mamam Simon, who has lived in Sderot since 1956, standing in front of his own empty odds-and-ends store on Ben Yehuda Street, which runs down the center of town. "We were used to the sound of Kassams; we have been hearing them for six years. What I will never get used to is an empty store."