Photo: Amir Cohen
Qassam hits Zikkim
Photo: Amir Cohen
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Police inspecting landing site
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

Sense of forfeiture near Gaza

Residents of communities near Gaza disappointed by IDF failure to reinforce homes against Qassams

Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip have lost hope: Just over half a year since the disengagement, and their homes, some of which lie a couple of hundreds of meters from Qassam launch pads, have become a fire zone.


Hundreds of Qassam rockets were fired into these communities in the last few months. Promises of fortified roofs and sealed rooms proved to be nothing but sweet talk.


At the exception of one community, nothing happened.


"We are like geese in fire range," residents told Isreal's leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. "No one cares what's happening here. No one. The state has abandoned us."


A series of military measures, raging from targeted assassinations to firing artillery rounds at Qassam launch pads, and lately a brief IDF incursion into Gaza, did little to halt Qassam fire.


IDF sources said that with the latest operation against Qassam cells "the Palestinians lost their ability to aim their fire," and therefore most Qassams have fallen in open fields. But whether Palestinian aiming capability is good or bad, no one can guarantee the next rocket want fall in a kindergarten.


The Red Dawn warning system gives residents 20 seconds to seek hiding when a rocket is fired from the Gaza Strip, but for the majority of residents there is nowhere to hide.


Kibbutz Zikkim


The Zikkim Kibbutz suffered 300 Qassam attacks. Before the disengagement they were promised 196 sealed rooms for 350 residents. At the kibbutz' entrance 34 sealed rooms from former settlements have been placed. All need refurbishment. Protection work in kindergartens is way beyond the deadline and although the IDF promised to hasten their work, they refused to commit to a new deadline.


"Fear is part our children's daily life. They grow in anxiety," kibbutz officials said.


Kibbutz Karmia


Kibbutz Karmia lies north of the Gaza Strip, and it too was hit by over 300 Qassams. Of 61 sealed rooms promised before the disengagement, 45 derelict rooms have been delivered.


Residents speak of "death numbers:" he who gets a room is likely to stay alive.


Two months ago a Qassam hit a house and injured members of the Amar family, including a toddler.


Yad Mordechai


Kibbutz Yad Mordechai sustained 200 Qassam attacks. About 15 sealed rooms were promised to 250 residents but not a single one has been delivered. Five kindergartens in the kibbutz remain unprotected.


The high school has been promised 13 sealed classes but nothing has been done. The IDF recently said it has no intention of sealing classrooms at the primary school


"Whenever a Qassam falls and doesn't hit our schools it is by miracle," residents said.


Nir Am: reinforcement completed, people are leaving


Kibbutz Nir Am was hit by dozens of Qassams. Of 15 sealed rooms promised by the military, only 11 have been delivered. Of 100 families in the community, 20 have little children.


In kindergartens and at the medical center, 5 sealed rooms have been set up.


Kibbutz residents said the measures are "a partial solution to the problem because there isn't enough place to shelter all children at the time of an attack."


"There isn't a sealed room for every family. They have put us in a very unpleasant situation. We have to decide who gets a room and who doesn't. This means who lives and who dies. Just like God," Avi Kadosh, the kibbutz' secretary-general said.


Netiv Haasara is the only kibbutz where reinforcement work has been completed. A sealed room has been erected near each house in the community and kindergartens have been fitted with fortified roofs. "Reinforcement is only a tranquilizer. The sound of explosions is impossible to eliminate. Quiet living has long gone. At nights no one leaves home out of fear," a resident said.


Residents said their children are leaving the community and finding new homes in other cities.


"Many families who rented here have left. We were once considered a much recommended community. Today I barely dare say I live in Netiv Haasara."


פרסום ראשון: 04.21.06, 11:33
 new comment
This will delete your current comment