One of the most evident features of the new way of life in Sderot is the pace of daily activities. With only 20 seconds of warning time between the activation of the Red Dawn alarm and the landing of a Qassam rocket, there is little time to dawdle. A hiding place should be found swiftly.
And the same swiftness can be seen in the daily lives of Sderot residents. At the local market, despite the declaration of a strike in protest at daily Qassam attacks, a number of shops were open.
But it was not business as usual. The few shoppers seen around were rushing.
"Buy fast before a Qassam falls," is the most common sentence head in the market.
Strolling down the market on the first day of summer vacation, a group of jaded teenagers explain: "Everything is closed, there are no clubs; we have nothing to do. We can either stay at home of go to work with our parents."
Despite the fear of imminent Qassam attacks, everyone knows what to do upon hearing the alarm siren. A 10-year-old girl knows the exercise by heart: "I either stand by a wall or lie on the floor. It is scary but we got used to it."
It was sad in Sderot this morning. "Grandchildren don't come to visit," "City of ghosts," "We don't sleep at night," "There is no where to go"; these are some of the reactions voiced by residents.
'How can I be responsible for another 20 children?'
Ines Cohen lives in Sderot with two of her four children; two sons live in Jerusalem and Beer Yaakov.
When she left for the market on Tuesday she hired two babysitters to look after her two youngsters, aged 9 and 10.
Shopping in Sderot's market (Photo: Amir Cohen)
"The babysitter is scared to be alone with the children so I need to pay double," she said.
Children have become central in the city's struggle to cope with the situation.
"My 14-year-old grandson needs to have a good time during the summer vacation, but I don't allow him to leave the house," says Uriella Pozailov.
"If we reach a situation where we have to hide and sleep underground, it will be a problem, because all underground shelters are synagogues or clubs."
Eli Nidam said he makes two phone calls whenever a Qassam falls: "First I call the children. They allow them to have their phones on when a Qassam lands. Then I call the rest of the family."
8-year-old Shir is celebrating her birthday, but it is not a joyful ceremony. Her mother Hanah, has decided to not throw in a party for her daughter this year.
"My house is not protected. How can I be responsible for another 20 children?" she said.
As residents try to adapt to life under the constant threat of rocket attacks, the city will be blacked out on Tuesday night in protest at the ongoing Qassam fire.