'The siren goes off, and we have nowhere to run to'

Gush Katif families living in Nitzan lament the return of rockets, lack of shelter.

kassam shock ashkelon good  248 88 (photo credit: AP)
kassam shock ashkelon good 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
After leaving the Gush Katif community of Netzer Hazani during the 2005 disengagement, Malka Mordechai was sure that she and her family were leaving the days of Kassam rockets and bomb shelters behind them. "But now the rockets are back," she said, as she sat on the porch of her home Sunday afternoon. "And there isn't a single shelter here to run to." Like many families displaced by disengagement, the Mordechais moved to Nitzan, a caravan-community between Ashdod and Ashkelon, which was specifically built to accommodate Gush Katif residents after their evacuation. And while the small town was built with hundreds of "caravillas," or modest family homes, a handful of schools and other shiny public buildings, not a single safe-room or underground bomb shelter was erected in this community of over 500 former Gush Katif families. "There isn't one," Mordechai said. "Not one. They installed a [rocket] alert system, but they didn't build any shelters, which to me is the biggest insult. The siren goes off, and we have nowhere to run to." And with the ongoing Operation Cast Lead unfolding in Gaza, the threat of rocket fire has come to the forefront of Nitzan residents lives once again. "We hear the booms in Ashkelon, we heard it today in Ashdod, and a few rockets have already landed on either side of us," Mordechai's son in-law, Yossi, told The Jerusalem Post. "Look," he continued, banging on the wall of the house, "these homes are made out of cardboard and they expect us to take a rocket attack. What am I supposed to do with my daughter?" "I prefer to be back in Gaza, or even Sderot," said Mordechai's daughter, Dalit, who was wounded by a Kassam rocket eight years ago in Gush Katif. "At least there they have a place to go. Here, I think it would be better if they just took the siren away, because it puts so much pressure on us, and we can't do anything about it." "I'm mostly worried about my granddaughter," Malka continued, gesturing to a young girl who sat nearby on the porch. "She's still recovering from the trauma of Gush Katif - every time there was a rocket, there she would jump. Now, it's like all of the old nightmares are coming back to haunt us." The Mordechais did say that the Home Front Command had issued special instructions to the residents of Nitzan, due to the lack of fortification in their community. "They told us that when we hear the siren, we should go outside and lie down on the ground," Dalit said. "I mean, you've got to be kidding me." In a response, the The Home Front Command said, "We are aware of the situation in Niztan and are currently handling it as it develops." "However, the correct thing for residents of Nitzan to do, is to shore up the southern wall of their home as much as possible and to lie on the ground inside their home, in the northern most part of their house. The residents were not instructed to go outside, that is incorrect." At a nearby nursery school, Rachel Sofer, a babysitter at the school, told the Post that she was wary of having the kids return to class without any sort of fortified room. "Now they're talking about building one, but how long will that take?" Sofer asked. "You know, I always said, if they were going to take us out of Gaza, we should see something, you know, some sort of good should have come of it. But what did we get? All we got was more rockets and less protection."