Kassam won't drive factory worker out of town [pg. 3]

Much to his wife's chagrin, the Kassam rocket that almost landed on Shlomo Adaf's head Thursday morning did not sway him to leave Sderot, where he has lived for 45 years. An employee at the Universe packing factory that suffered a direct hit around 10:30 a.m., Adaf, 60, was lucky to be in the storeroom when the rocket exploded just above the concrete roof, causing a 21-meter-long slab to fall amid the piles of pine lumber used to construct heavy boxes for shipping. Since the warning siren did not ring out as usual, it was a miracle, Adaf said, that none of the 18 factory employees were standing under the slab. Only one was lightly wounded when a cloud of debris and shrapnel hit his face. Factory manager Zvi Dov said that one of the shock victims had been spared by a matter of seconds. The rocket fell just as he walked away from the spot where the roof caved in. "The man fell to his knees shaking," he said. As sun streamed through the hole in the roof several hours later, Adaf calmly stood with his wife and daughter and surveyed the area of damage which had been cordoned off from the rest of the factory by strands of red police tape. "It's not easy to think of leaving," he said. "My whole life is here." But he holds a minority opinion within his family. His wife Lililian and daughter Shani, 18, who raced to be with him when they heard the news, said they had felt that enough was enough even before the attack. Lililian said she would be more than happy to move out of the city. Among her first thoughts when she heard of the attack was the feeling that now, maybe, he husband would agree to go. Four of the 3,000 rockets that Palestinians have launched into the Negev since April 2001 have fallen near their home. "He doesn't know what it is like," said Lililian looking at her husband. "He was here when the rocket fell near the house," she added. The windows were shattered in each attack, said Shani, who is counting the eight days until she leaves on her post high school graduation trip to Japan. As they spoke, a thud in a back office caused both women to jump slightly. They calmed down within seconds as they understood that it was several objects falling and not a rocket that had caused the sound. "All of Sderot is like this," she said. It's a feeling that is not made easier by the fact that their friend, 60-year-old Yonatan Angel, was seriously wounded when a Kassam fell in the area on Sunday and is still recovering in the hospital. Nissim Adaf, 27, told The Jerusalem Post over the phone that he left Sderot for Herzliya several years ago because he was tired of feeling frightened and panicked all the time. But his father did not feel as moved by the constant threat to the city. Neither did Shlomo Dayan, who boasted that he was the first baby born in Sderot when it was first created some 50 years ago. Both men said they were still willing to stay in the city in hopes that the rockets would stop. Inside the factory, Dov and owner Yehuda Levy were busy making plans to to fix the roof and reopen the business. Until Thursday, they had believed their factory was safe from rocket attacks because of its concrete roof. Both men said that it was too early to calculate the monetary damage. But the media was here all morning filming and shooting pictures, said Dov, as he rested for a moment on a pile of lumber. Customers will see the damage and think that it is safer to chose another company to work with, he said. Across the street, security guard Maxim Diryavkin, who came to Sderot from Belarus, said he believed that the rest of the country had simply stopped caring about the town. What makes him particularly angry is that people in Tel Aviv have the luxury of choosing a cafe based on the quality of its coffee, while "I check out the strength of its roof to make sure that its safe." He was reading a book when he heard the rocket land. Once he calmed down and was assured that everyone was safe, he was left with a feeling of anger. Although he voted for Kadima and still respects Defense Minister Amir Peretz, a native of Sderot, he is tired of the government's policy of restraint. "The government cares more for the Palestinians than it does for us," Diryavkin said. If this keeps up, he said, he's ready to leave Israel.