Sderot. 'We're frustrated'
Shalit. 'Why did they decide to act only because of him?'
Photo: Noam Rotem
Qassam rocket number 1,203 crossed through Sderot last Tuesday. It landed near Hanan Cohen's house, and the media reported that one resident suffered from shock. Well, no one is excited by yet another person injured in Sderot.
Hanan's brother, Arie, has been living for three weeks in the protest tent in front of Sderot's city hall, crying that for five years Qassam rockets have been landing in Sderot and the government is not doing a thing.
"We're frustrated," he says. "Some 25,000 citizens are being held as captives in the hands of terror for five years, and the consensus wasn't with us since we demanded that the IDF enter the Gaza Strip. They always hinted that they would do it only after a major disaster, but what's a disaster? Not just wounded, but only dead. It's a game of blood."
"When we begged the government to enter Gaza they told us that it's not a good idea because soldiers might die," Cohen added. "Now, because of one kidnapped soldier the entire IDF is there. Of course, I think that they should do everything they can in order to bring him back, but what's the message to me? The message is that one soldier is more important than the entire Sderot population."
Sima Hadad, a well-known local activist, explains: "We're all in favor of a military action to release Gilad Shalit, but with all due respect, we're not second class citizens. We deal with Qassam rockets every single night, so why did they decide to act only because of him?"
Her husband, Shalom, agrees: "There is no doubt that a kidnapping justifies the IDF's entrance into Gaza, but what about hundreds of Qassam rockets?"
'Government is sleeping'
Also in the market, merchants are frustrated.
"You know why they kidnapped the soldier?" asks watermelon vendor Eli Yamin. "They did it because the government is sleeping. They aren't letting the IDF do its job."
At some point during the conversation, Yamin stops and yells into his megaphone: "Sweet watermelons!" In the other Israeli markets the merchants yell: "Red watermelon" bit in Sderot it's forbidden.
"The police doesn’t allow us to say that", Yamin explained. "They are afraid that it's too similar to the Red Dawn alert system and that the people will panic."
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a military camp is being built.
"The feeling is like they brought Lebanon back here," the soldiers in the standpoint say.
But Sderot residents are unable to overcome their anger, even when the soldiers are the target.
"They are not here for us," they say. "They are here for the kidnapped soldier."