Some 50 families from Kfar Aza arrived at Kibbutz Deganya A on Sunday to spend the Shavuot holiday far from the threat of the incessant Qassam rocket and mortar fire emanating from Gaza.
"I demand the right to live in peace in my own home just like any other citizen in Israel; I hope calm is closer than ever," said Kfar Aza resident Estrasha Robinson, who made the trip up north with her husband and four daughters.
"This is the second consecutive year that we are spending the holiday in Deganya, but this time we've arrived here just a month after losing our friend Jimmy Kdoshim, who was killed by a mortar not far from where we live," she said upon her arrival at the kibbutz, which is located on the southwest shoreline of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
"We thought last year was bad, but things have deteriorated even more this year," she said."
Estrasha's 11-year-old daughter Natali spoke of life under the threat of the Qassam and mortar attacks, saying "instead of going to the playground we spend most of the time at home. My sisters and I all sleep in the same room, which my parents said was the most secure in the house. We are constantly afraid that a friend or relative will be hit by a mortar."
According to Tamar Gal-Sheri, Deganya's cultural coordinator, life for the residents of Gaza-vicinity communities is somewhat similar to that of Israel's northern residents, who over the years have endured massive Katyusha rocket attacks from Lebanon.
"It is easy for me to sympathize with them because I was born and raised here in the kibbutz under an endless barrage of Katyushas," she said. "We know what it means to be on the front line, and this is why we feel obliged to host the residents of the south; it’s the least we can do for them."