The dozens of Qassam rockets that landed in the southern city of Sderot Saturday have confined the residents to their homes, awaiting the Red Dawn alert system to warn them of another approaching rocket and send them running to the nearest shelter.
Five-year-old Liron Stikilov embraces her father Alexander as they stare at the Qassam shrapnel that smashed the bedroom window and tore the blinds.
“I was sleeping in bed with my mom, and then there was a sudden ‘boom’ and the glass shattered,” she says.
“I am very afraid of the Qassam. It has such a loud ‘boom.’ We’re moving to another home, right?”
Liron’s mother, Svetlana, 36, says, “She says (Liron) constantly asks that the family leave Sderot.”
Alexander, 41, works as a welder at Kibbutz Alumim, in the western Negev desert.
“I have wanted to leave the city ever since I saw our neighbor, Ella Abuksis, lying injured on the road (Abuksis eventually died of her wounds),” he says.
“I have high blood pressure, and I suffer from anxiety. We cannot live like this. I would like to know if the State offers assistance to those who want to leave; I want to sell the house and move someplace peaceful. We can’t sleep; we are always afraid that a Qassam will hit the house.”
One Qassam struck a local school, while others landed in open fields.
“There are two kinds of people in Sderot – those who were injured (from the Qassams) and who have not been injured yet,” 29-year-old resident Yitzhak Aharon says.
Yossi Cohen, a Maged David Adom ambulance driver and paramedic, has not slept all night; he helped evacuate to people who suffered from shock on Tel-Chai Street.
“This is what we feared would happen. Sderot has once again become a shooting range for the Palestinian Qassams,” he says.
“The residents here are completely helpless.”
Paramedic Avi Taige says he fears the renewed attack on Sderot is just beginning.
“You leave your children at home, exposed to the next rocket, and run to treat the wounded,” he says.
“We were almost beginning to get accustomed to the calm in Sderot and in the around-Gaza communities. But the Palestinians are not letting us enjoy the peace and quiet. Suddenly, everything has erupted again.”
Residents of Nativ Haasara also remain confined to their homes. The wall separating their community from the Gaza Palestinians is still under construction and their homes are subject to Hamas and Islamic Jihad sniper, Qassam and mortar fire.
Near the security fence a tank platoon prepares to head south, and Samson Brigade jeeps are swerving between the armored vehicles.
“If we identify a Qassam launch, we fire,” one officer says.
“This reality is complex. We and the residents are exposed to sniper fire and Qassams. Regardless of the force we confront them (Palestinians) with, they are always looking for a way to fire again.”