May 24, 2007
Rockets raining on Sderot take physical and mental toll on city
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Realizing I'm no angel, I offer to visit his wheelchair-bound, sick mother, but she was recently taken to a nursing home in Ashkelon. "When, when, when will there be quiet?" he shouts.
He wants me to tell the world: "We are suffering. Families are destroyed, children are destroyed, homes are destroyed and [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and Peretz don't do anything. All the money donated to the municipalities, we don't see a cent of it."
A 27-year-old onlooker is more forgiving of the government's seeming inaction, at least in regard to military activity. He doesn't think there is any quick-fix solution, and he's patient, describing his decision to stay in Sderot as a "gamble with fate."
"Gaza is the densest place in the world. You can't just do what you did in Operation Defensive Shield," he says. "You'll take a lot of IDF fatalities."
A 5-year-old girl sits on the lawn with a teddy bear outside her apartment, whose windows had been damaged not long ago by shrapnel from a missile strike across the street. She seems to be the calmest of the people I've spoken with, whether from childish naiveté or repressed uncertainty.
"When there are Qassam rockets, we hide here," she says matter-of-factly but sweetly, pointing to her ground-floor apartment. "We don't have shelters."
"Are you afraid?" I ask.
"We're afraid of the boom," she replies.
By the late afternoon, we've been here for about three hours; as we get ready to leave Sderot, we stop by a local falafel stand empty of customers. They are still functioning, but "business is terrible. People are afraid to go out. We make less of everything," reports Eliran, an 18-year-old worker there. The falafel was still good, though -- fresh.
On our way out, we notice smoke billowing in the skies. Was it a rocket? No, tires have been set aflame by local shopkeepers, one way of protesting their "special situation."
Back in Jerusalem, that boom still rings in my ears. As much as the echo of the man's booming cry: "When? When? When will there be quiet?"
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