Ashkelon: Residents huddle in shelters
Photo: Amir Cohen
Rockets wreak havoc on buildings
Photo: AFP

Color Red activated in additional cities

Large cities such as Ashdod, Rahat deemed by Homefront Command to be exposed to rocket threat after Wednesday's incessant barrage; residents in Gaza vicinity spend night in shelters, expressing little hope for reprieve in near future

The barrage of artillery fired at Israel from Gaza throughout Wednesday caused defense officials to order the activation of the Color Red alert system in all cities within a 30 km radius of the Strip, including Ashdod and Rahat.


"I never thought we'd come to this," Yechiel Lasry, the mayor of Ashdod, told Ynet. "I thought the state would do something to stop the fire but that hasn't been done. I don't like the idea of activating the alert system in the city, but we need to be prepared."


He said the city's residents had already received pamphlets from the Homefront Command indicating what was to be done in the case of a rocket attack. However this was not his main concern.


"We are an independent state placed under constant rocket attacks, and do not know how to respond or react. There are many who are concerned about the present reality and unhappy with what's going on," Lasry said.


"We don't pretend to be the prime minister or the chief of staff, but we think it can only get worse. Fire towards Ashdod will not be the last of it; it's only a matter of time before the fire moves northward."


Rahat, the largest Bedouin settlement in Israel, is also preparing for possible attacks. Mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban told Ynet a campaign would be held Thursday in order to explain safety procedures to the residents.


"We are concerned for the safety of the residents," he said. "We don't care about what's happening in Gaza, only about what's happening in our city. The State will do its duty, and we will do ours as citizens of Israel," he said.


From Meretz to Lieberman

Meanwhile the non-stop fire towards Ashkelon forced many of the city's residents to sleep in bomb shelters and fortified rooms. Many told Ynet they had no high hopes for the State's leadership to find a solution to their plight in the near future.


Shlomi Amsalem, father of four, said he planned to sleep with his family in their secure room as he recognized the danger in suffering a direct rocket or mortar hit. He expressed low expectations from Israel's military prowess.


"I don't think a solution of force can solve this battle. The solution can only be political, with low chances of success," he said.


Orit Ronen, mother of four, explained that she, too, would be sleeping with her family in the safe room. "I see my children's responses to the alert and it's just terrible – the anxiety and fear. I have no doubt they will be calmer in the fortified room."


She added that the ceaseless attacks had radically changed her political views. "I used to be very active in the Meretz youth movement; I organized meetings between Jews and Arabs. Now I define myself as an Avigdor Lieberman supporter," she said.


"We need some kind of military operation, we need to do something so these alerts and rockets stop. I recommend that the alarms sound in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well, so people understand how scary it is," Ronen concluded.


Ilana Curiel contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.25.08, 00:21
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