A bustling yet subdued Sderot market attracted a few hundred locals to shop for fruits and vegetables. But at any time, the Red Dawn rocket alert system could sound, sending residents fleeing for cover. Once the alert is heard, residents have around one minute to take shelter.
On Wednesday morning,a woman was killed following injuries sustained by a Qassam, and another man seriously injured. In 2004, two young children, aged two and four, were killed while playing in the street after Hamas launched rockets at the town. Before that, a young girl was killed when a Qassam landed near her kindergarten. For years, the rockets have been terrorizing the people in this frontier community.
Shoppers in Sderot's market (Photo: Yaakov Lappin)
Sderot is a working class town on the border with Gaza, with many immigrants struggling to break even at the end of the month. Every time they venture out of the house, residents know a piece of metal with some explosives attached to it could fall on them from the sky.
Yelena Moshari, a kindergarten teacher, said her nine-year old daughter becomes frightened after hearing the rocket alert. "She quickly runs to me, shaking. She doesn't want to go to school. She is always asking me to move, but we have gotten used to it here. It's hard to leave," Moshari says.
"It really makes me angry, that our children have to be scared in the morning. Instead of a 'good morning' at the start of the day, we get a rocket alert," she added.
"I go out in the street, and I wonder, if a Qassam lands, what do I do?" said her colleague, Mira. "I'm supposed to take cover, but where?" She exclaimed, adding: "You really can't get used to this."
"It's terrible fear, but when you see the others go about their daily business, you also go on. It's like Russian roulette. You don't know where it's going to hit," Moshari said.
'The Jews want peace'
She added: "The Jews want peace, from all the heart. But it seems the Arabs really don't want peace. Our country is so small. What do they want, Where do they want to push us?"
Yivgena Primov, a young mother, was out walking in Sderot with her infant daughter, Luda, in a stroller. "She runs to me immediately when the rocket alert goes," said Yivgena. "She understands it's something not good." Yivgena has heard rockets explode around her house. "We can't live like this, everyone in fear," she added. "If you don't have money, you can't leave. Believe me, if there was the opportunity, everyone here would leave."
Yaish Peretz (Photo: Yaakov Lappin)
Eitan Peretz runs a family owned falafel stand in the heart of Sderot. "Sderot is a very nice city," he says. "We love this place. We don't feel like leaving."
"We are constantly being harassed. The fear that children experience is the most worrying thing for me, though adults are no less affected," Peretz added. "Rockets have fallen very close to our restaurant here. One fell here in the market, and the people went into panic. And I joined them."
Peretz said the government has so far not obtained security for Sderot. "More can be done, to people behaving like this to us," he said.
Yaish Peretz, a market stall owner, said the bustling market was actually a fraction of its natural size.
"What you're seeing here is not the natural movement of the market. There used be over 200 stalls here. Today, we barely have 40-50. No one is able to sell their stocks," he said.
'The Palestinians will pay dearly'
A rocket has recently landed behind Peretz's house. "The big picture is that we have a problem. A solution is needed. We need an end to this. Subconsciously, I always wonder, when will I heard the rocket alert siren," he said. "We heard it every two minutes last week, one rocket landed right here," Peretz added.
Today, Sderot was spared the terror of a rocket attack, though a nearby kibbutz was struck. Military helicopters flew in the direction of Gaza as the market continued to buzz.
During the evening hours, the city was once again under attack, as another rocket fell, damaging buildings. Another rocket attack since then resulted in the death of a woman and another man being seriously injured.
"No one is going to leave their house. We will fight until the end," Peretz said. "Eventually, it will cost the Palestinians dearly. I promise you, another prime minister will come, if this one doesn't have the courage, and he will sow destruction in Gaza, so that this will end," Peretz said.