Sderot residents testify before Goldstone panel

Residents of cities hit by Palestinian-launched rockets speak via video about their plight, say "it is important to tell our story."

sderot kassam damage 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sderot kassam damage 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hava Gad was alive to testify on Wednesday before the United Nations because the rocket that struck two meters behind her on a Sderot street failed to explode.
“My life flashed before my eyes. I thought I was dying,” she told The Jerusalem Post as she recalled that fateful day.
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She remembers the date exactly.
It was December 23, 2008, four days before the start of the IDF’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.
Her daughter was engaged to be married. Gad’s last thought, before she fainted was that now there would be no one to walk her daughter down the aisle.
On Tuesday, Gad, along with two people from Ashkelon and Sderot Mayor David Buskila, spoke via a video hookup with a three-member judicial panel in Geneva charged by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring the implementation of the Goldstone Report.
The government said that the Goldstone Report was biased against Israel. It refused to cooperate both with the fact- finding mission lead by South African jurist Richard Goldstone and with the UN Human Rights Council panel charged with monitoring compliance with the report’s recommendations.
But Buskila told the Post that he wanted to talk with the panel because the world has ignored the plight of his border town, which has suffered Gazan rocket fire for close to 10 years.
The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists organized the testimony from Sderot “It is very important to tell our story so that they can see that there are two sides,” Gad said. The majority of the people in Israel and Gaza are not interested in politics, she said.
“We want to get up in the morning and take care of our kids,” she said.
Gad, 45, who has three children and a grandchild, said she has lived in Sderot for 15 years.
But already six years ago, before the 2008 attack, she was traumatized by the rockets, included one that hit in her yard.
She takes medication to stay calm and rarely goes outside.
Nor was she able to hold on to her job as a secretary in a nearby kibbutz.
She said she dreamed of the day when she would feel safe enough to laugh again.
“My children do not even remember the last time I laughed. They do not even remember what it sounds like,” she said.
Buskila told the panel that in the years leading up to Operation Cast Lead, 8,000 rockets hit in or near his town. Since the offensive, 960 rockets have struck in the larger area near the Gaza border, including a number in the last week, he said.
“I believe and I hope that the UN will know not to equate a democratic nation [Israel] with the terrorist organizations that operate in Gaza,” Buskila said.