Despite the ongoing rocket attacks on their town from Gaza in the last several years, some 500 Sderot residents have recently signed a petition calling to stop the IDF operation in the Strip and renew the truce with Hamas.
Arik Yalin, 43, from Sderot told Ynet that over 1,800 Israelis and Palestinians have already joined the petition. "About a month ago we realized that the situation was about to deteriorate into total chaos," he explained.
"It's important for us to voice an opinion that represents quite a few residents who live within the rocket range but who believe that we can, and should try to resolve this ongoing conflict in a peaceful manner.
"We have experienced the terrible hardship of life under rocket fire for the past eight years, and it has deeply hurt us both mentally and physically. Our need to voice a different stance stems from the strong desire to change the situation and begin negotiations with the other side in order to stop the violence," he added.
According to Yalin, a military operation will only deepen the hatred on both sides and reduce the chances of reaching a settlement. "The underlying assumption is that eventually there would be some kind of understanding. The only question is how many innocent people would get killed along the way."
'Operation only leads to more hate'
Hakim Hassona, the owner of a Gaza hauling company, praised the initiative. "Why use violence when there are no winners in this war?" he asked. "At the end we are cousins and neighbors and there's no need to get into this situation.
"They say that an assault will create deterrence, but what kind of deterrence? This only leads to more hate. There isn't a family in Gaza who hasn’t had a relative hurt in the raids… the ordinary person doesn't care about the war, he just wants to live in peace."
The "Different Voice" group, which was formed by Yalin and his friends, seeks to promote dialogue between Israel and the Hamas leadership in Gaza. Dozens of the group members maintain constant contact with several of Gaza's residents.
Yael Levy contributed to the report