To the children of Sderot and the western Negev, life in the shadow of Qassams has been a traumatic experience for a long time; so much so, that some of them even say that they don't remember life without them. The Committee for Children's' Rights heard testimonies Tuesday from the mouths of some of those kids who have been under constant threat of rocket attacks.
"We have no normal life. We never know what will happen the next hour when Qassams fall; we are not only afraid for ourselves, but also for our families. It's traumatic to think that someone close to us will get hurt. It's just terrible," said Bar, one of the children who testified before the committee.
To much surprise, Bar said that he was quite envious of the children of the north. "As far as I am concerned, Qassams can land here all the time, and we will stay in bomb shelters just like what happened in the north. It is better than living in tense anticipation that any minute Qassams start falling on us. We need to get into Gaza and take care of the problem," he said.
During the visit, the children, just like the Knesset members, were found to be just as divided on the methods of action in order to solve the problem. Yossi from Sderot is convinced that there is a need to act with force and for every Qassam that lands in Israel, the IDF should fire three shells at Gaza. Ofri from a kibbutz in the Negev says, however, that another war will not do any good, only negotiations. She says there are good people in Gaza, just like they think there are bad people in Israel.
'We can't fall asleep'
The children said that because of the Qassams they have problems in studying, concentrating, and they are lagging behind compared to other children of the country. "I have a hard time concentrating in school, and the Qassams affect my entire life," said Niv. "Every time I want to do something, I give up because I think that the alarm will go off at any moment. I can't study and I can't even play soccer," he added
Niv's classmate Gon explained their learning conditions in recent times: "Because not all of our classrooms are protected, we have to study in shifts. We have no gym class because there is no safe place to practice, and the Yitzhak Rabin ceremony was also not conducted as planned. During the night we can't fall asleep because of the drones and helicopters flying overhead, and during the day we can't concentrate because we are too tired."
The fear of Qasams has seeped so deeply into the children's psyche, that they can't remember life without them. Liza from Sderot said that she can't remember life without Qassams, but she remembers the day she started being afraid that something will happen to her or one of her friends. It was the day a girl she knew was killed by a Qassam rocket.