For many Israeli the words Color Red and Qassam attacks are part of the news. For Sderot residents, including Tal Braunstein, a media student, this is a daily reality.
On Wednesday she depicted the moment after a Qassam landed in Sderot meters from her room in the student's dormitories at the Saphir College in the city center.
A 17-year-old boy was seriously injured in the attack. "I heard Color Red and I took the camera instantly. Suddenly I heard a whistle getting louder, and I didn't imagine that a Qassam would fall so close to me," he says.
Braunstein says: "The Qassam landed 50 meter from the dormitories. On the floor below me, the windows were shattered and the blinds flew in the air. All car alarms were activated and one of the neighbors started crying in hysteria. It was really scary."
Braunstein says that there are no shelters at the dormitories. "Yonit my roommate screamed on me to get in the toilet, since that's the only protected area in the flat. There are shelters below, but we live on the third floor and the siren sounds few seconds before the landing. In a situation like this there is no point in running to the shelter."
'No place is safe'
Braunstein moved to Sderot two months ago after enrolling at Sapir College.
“I didn’t really take the Qassam rockets into account when I moved here,” she says. My mother was concerned and asked me not to move, but the cost of living at the area’s kibbutzim is twice as high, so I had no choice but to live in the dorms.”
Yonit Davidovitch, Braunstein’s roommate and a fellow Sapir College student, arrived at Sderot from Mitzpeh Gilon in the Galilee; she spent the summer hiding out in secure rooms during the massive Hizbullah attacks on the north.
“I spoke with my father and he tried to calm me down by saying that I was already used to this,” she says. “The truth is that I serpent the last few hours trying to calm those around me down, but the truth is that I was not calm at all.
“There was a time during the war when every slam of the door would make me jump in fear, but now I’m used to it. When I hear the ‘Color Red’ alert system I don’t get overly anxious, but today’s blast was really close.”
Despite the incessant Qassam fire, Braunstein and Davidovitch say they do not plan on leaving the western Negev area.
“The neighbor below us said ‘that’s it, I’m leaving’ after the windows in his apartment were shattered,” Davidovitch says. “He sat in front on the TV and watched the national team’s soccer game crying. My friend and I discussed the option of leaving, but it’s not that simple. I left everything in order to study here.”
Braunstein adds: “I have no choice but to remain in Sderot. I signed a lease until the end of the year and I study here. An hour after the attack I tried to sit and get some homework done, but I just can’t concentrate.
“The college was also struck by a Qassam two weeks ago,” she says. “The feeling is that no place is safe and that there is nowhere to run to. I wait at the bus stop and don’t know where to go – I look up at the sky to look for the Qassam; I feel as though I’m in a Russian roulette.”