'Infants are forced to endure such horrific sounds'
Photo: AFP

Life under the 'color red' alert

How can Sderot residents live under the constant chilling Qassam threat?

A baby's heart-wrenching cry is heard against a backdrop of falling Qassam rockets. Mothers fearfully dart to kindergartens to check whether their children have been hurt. Helpless people run about the streets seeking shelter. These are the pictures that came out of Sderot Monday; a city located less than an hour's drive away from the heart of Tel Aviv.


And it's not as if we didn't know what was going on there. For the past seven years we have been clicking our tongues each time we hear of another Qassam rocket landing there, another house that has collapsed, more shock victims.


Once in a while we read articles about these people who live in the shadows of the "Color Red" alert system, after which we let out a few words of solidarity, less than a proper sentence so that we can appear righteous. So that we can prove to someone - or even to ourselves - that we care. Something the likes of: How terrible, or how can one live like this. Then we proceed with our daily lives.


But to what extent do we really understand the lives of these people, who beyond the daily anxieties accompanying every Israeli citizen raising children here, must face a constant tangible, existential and statistical threat. A threat so chilling it is almost surreal: Will my house be hit by a Qassam rocket today? Or where will my child be in the next Qassam attack? And the dilemma of each sane parent in Sderot: Am I being irresponsible by continuing to live in a place where my children are in danger's way?


Hence, the images from Sderot Monday were so effective. They didn't depict ruined houses or the cries of residents following a Qassam attack. They depicted people in their daily routine: People like you and I, who take their children to kindergarten or to school in the morning. Mothers who heavy-heartedly part from their babies, who would from that moment on become dependent on the resourcefulness, the courage and resilience of the kindergarten teacher.


Army has no answer

The images depicted the daily routine of people like ourselves, who set out to a day's work not wondering what each day will bring, but rather, what each hour will produce.


Yes, it's terrible, and yes, how can one live this way? And how can one not protest the fact that for so many years the life of a city in Israel is disrupted so badly that seven-year-old children have never known a full night's sleep? That babies who are invariably shaken by the banging of a door have to experience such horrific sounds.


It's long been no secret that the army has no answer to the Qassam threat. A defense minister comes and goes but the Qassam rockets remain. It's not surprising, therefore, that in face of this helplessness in finding a solution Avigdor Lieberman-style traits begin to surface in each of us. If our children are not sleeping – don't let theirs sleep either – this is the impulsive formula born out of the sense of frustration.


Therefore, the proposal made by Vice Premier Haim Ramon against the backdrop of Monday's images from Sderot can be understood; he who thinks that only a radical, drastic measure that would inevitably create an internal dispute would advance the Qassam issue. What Ramon sees, as a member of the most clandestine Knesset committees who knows exactly what solutions are available - or more accurately, are not available - to the IDF, is apparently left with solutions of this nature only.


Once, the solutions of "pulling the plug" on Gaza were only proposed by extremists, and they sparked harsh criticism. But that was before thousands of Qassam rockets, in the days when we still believed that we could and should let the army win.


פרסום ראשון: 09.04.07, 16:26
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