The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip have been at war with Israel for years. The Jews of Gaza are gone, but the war continues. On Sunday, another volley of mortars fell on Israeli communities, pretty much unnoticed by all but the Israeli press.
Eight mortar shells were fired Sunday from the northern Gaza Strip towards the western Negev. Two of the mortars hit the community of Netiv Haasara, and the rest landed in open areas.
One of the mortars fell between two houses, causing damage. Moira Dror’s daughter lives in one of the houses, which was hit by shrapnel. “She left one or two minutes before the mortar hit the house,” she said.
The second building hit was the house of a woman and her two children. Luckily, they were not at home during the strike.
“We have a lot of luck or miracles,” Dror added. “We live about 200 meters (656 feet) from (the northern Gaza Strip town of) Beit Hanoun. As opposed to Qassam rockets, which have an alert system, we try to listen to the mortars being launched and manage run to the bomb shelters. But that only happens when the window is open and it’s very quiet. Today we didn’t hear it. It was very quick, and fell right next to us.
The Palestinians recently resumed the firing of mortar shells at Netiv Haasara, hitting only the southern part of the community, particularly one street.
Kassam rockets are fired on a near-daily basis, especially when dignitaries are in town. But the news organizations denigrate the severity of the attacks by labeling them “crude, homemade rockets” and pointing out that “only” 12 people have been killed by kassams in the years that the terrorists have been firing them. As if that really matters to the people in Sderot, or in any of the other towns that have been hit by kassams and mortars.
The New York Times’ Steve Erlanger has finally noticed the harm done to Sderot. But still, he makes sure that he skews the stats to make things seem less deadly:
Sderot, a working-class town of mainly North African immigrants less than two miles from Gaza, has been hit over the past four years with some 2,000 rockets of improving range and explosive power — 22 in the last eight days. Eight Sderot civilians have been killed by the rockets; Razi has seen 15 therapists.
There have been twelve deaths from kassam rockets. Three of them were children under the age of five. But Erlanger finds it necessary to define the deaths in Sderot as “civilian” deaths—as if the death of a soldier by a rocket fired in an undeclared war is any less important.
But already quiet, with the population down unofficially to perhaps 17,000 from 24,000, the people of Sderot live in a most un-Israeli hush, so they can hear the alerts. The vendor in the market who sits on a stool and yells out the prices of his cheap underwear has been told to stop using a megaphone. People sleep with the heating system off and a window open on the coldest night. There is no Muzak in the grocery store, and people keep their car windows open and their radios and televisions on low volume, even in the town’s few bars or pubs.
They take quick showers, afraid to miss an alert, no longer sleep in upstairs bedrooms and avoid public places at what are considered peak Qassam times. And when the alert sounds, people drop everything, including their unpaid groceries in the aisles, costing Daniel Dahan more than $100 a day, he said. He owns Super Dahan, the grocery his father started. They run to one of the square concrete shelters, known as betonadas, after the word for cement, that increasingly dot the town. Then they pull out their phones, to check on their children.
“What kind of life is this, when you can’t even make your home safe for your children?” Ms. Sasson asked.
A good question. Hamas provided the answer in 2006:
“We have decided to make Sderot a ghost town,” said a spokesman for Hamas who gave his name as Abu Ubeideh. “We are not going to stop launching our rockets until they leave.”
They’ve made a quarter of the townspeople leave. Because Israel isn’t fighting the undeclared war to the best of her abilities. The world won’t let her.