'There is no end to the rocket fire'

"We don't even have a safe-room in the house," Sderot mother of four tells The Jerusalem Post.

woman hurt kassam sderot (photo credit: AP)
woman hurt kassam sderot
(photo credit: AP)
Fatigue and a shower meant Hadas Inataev was out of harm's way when a rocket struck her neighbor's back yard on Wednesday evening and left her kitchen window scattered across her floor. An hour later, the Sderot resident sat trembling in her living room. "We don't even have a safe-room in the house," the diminutive mother of four told The Jerusalem Post. Sometimes when she hears the warning sirens, she cowers in her kitchen doorway. There is a bomb shelter nearby, but it is one of the 18 of the town's 58 shelters that are locked because they are not up to standard. "So we look for the safest spot in the house," Inataev said. On Wednesday, she headed for the shower at the same time that a Kassam barrage hit the town. Twenty-five percent of parents opted not to send their children to school. Tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak paid for 110 teens to stay at a guest house near Jerusalem until the end of the week. Among those who left was Inataev's 17-year-old son. She herself was determined to ignore the sirens in favor of a shower. "I told myself that if a rocket falls on the house, at least I'll die clean," she said, a weak smile crossing her face. Once she finished in the bathroom, her husband needled her about making dinner before he went to work in a nearby factory. She told him she preferred to sit on the sofa with their eight-year old son for a few minutes. That's when another siren rang out, followed by a loud noise. "I thought a rocket hit the house. I wanted to hold my son. I reached out to grab him, when the force of the blast pushed us to the floor," she said. Now, she said, he is too scared to sleep at home, so she sent him to spend the night at her brother's. "My entire body hurt from fear and from the fall," she said. An hour earlier and a short distance away, Rutti Edri stood in front of a community center for teens to say good-bye to her 14-year-old son who was waiting to get onto one of Gaydamak's buses. Her husband was lightly wounded by a rocket last year while driving a cab. Her children, she said, were so scared that no one sleeps in their bedrooms on the second floor of their home, which also lacks a secure room. Instead, they all sleep on the first floor, the children in the playroom and the parents in the living room. Although she likes the town where she was born, she would leave for good if she could. "I do not think there will be an end to the rocket fire," she said. Meanwhile, three 14-year-old boys, sitting on their overnight bags, said they were excited to get out of the town for a few days. "Every day we are afraid," said Shoham Sharvit. "It will calm us to go out for several days..." He didn't get to finish his thought, because another siren rang out. All the kids waiting for the bus ran either to a nearby concrete wall or into the community center. An activity for 10-year-olds hosted by the Israel Scouts had been scheduled at the center that evening. But only one child showed up. "I am afraid of the rockets," Shir Greenberg said as she sat with a Scout leader learning how to tie macram×™ knots. "But I love the Scouts." The rockets prevented the teenagers waiting outside from leaving Sderot, so Gaydamak plans to send more buses on Thursday. Despite of the rocket attacks, Mayor Eli Moyal said that for the first time in years, he was hopeful that the IDF was taking the situation in Sderot seriously. Last month, Moyal briefly quit his job in frustration over the Kassam attacks. After he returned he told the Post that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had promised him he would stop the rockets. "I believed him and I still believe him," Moyal said Wednesday. "The Israeli army has done a lot since December. The Israeli government and the defense minister mean business and that is why I am here. That is why I am staying." Residents of the Gaza periphery woke Wednesday to Kassams hitting at a rate of one per minute from 8:30 to 8:50. "It is not a crisis," Moyal said. "People are calm because they believe that someone is really taking care of them." At this point, the mayor said, the reaction of the government and the IDF had more influence on residents' morale then the rockets. It was the IDF's previous policy of restraint that was a disaster, he said. Moyal met Wednesday with Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant and United Nations Special Coordinator Robert H. Serry. Serry, who visited Gaza on Tuesday, told reporters Wednesday he had wanted to see the situation in Sderot for himself. "I wanted to come to show my solidarity for the people living in this Israeli town," he said. He visited the police station, where he saw the collection of rusted rockets that is stacked behind the building. Serry said the rocket launches constituted "random terror attacks." "They must stop," he said, calling for a cease-fire. During his visit to the Strip, he said, he told people that the majority of Gazans were paying the price for the actions of a small minority who were firing rockets. "I'm alarmed by the escalation of the attacks," he said Wednesday, adding that the UN was deeply concerned by the escalation in violence. He said that UN was helping with its efforts to feed the people in Gaza, where four out of five people were dependent on food staples provided by the organization.