Another Round from Gaza

Another Round from Gaza

Jerusalem, Israel, has been under siege the last two weeks, with a battle between Moshe Lion and Ofer Berkovitch for the position of Mayor of Jerusalem.

As of now it appears Moshe Lion has won the election.

A very different battle has been going on in Israel’s south along the Gaza border.

Southern Israel students hold protest near Knesset after walk from Sderot

Hundreds of students from Sderot led the way on a journey to the Rose Garden, across from the Knesset, to protest growing up on the front line of a war zone, and declared: “Let Us Grow Up in Quiet.”

As I wrote last week for 17 years southern Israel has been under attack. 

Ashkelon building hit by rocket where man was killed

After Israel allowed the transfer of $15 million to Hamas from Qatar, a barrage of 500 rockets fell on southern Israel in one day.

This building in Ashkelon took a direct hit.

One man was killed and one woman seriously injured.

Micky Rosenfeld talking to media near building damaged by Hamas rocket

At the site, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld held interview after interview with the media.

Ashkelon rocket damaged building next to synagogue

But did you see that the building across the way had shrapnel marks?

Damage from rocket in Ashkelon

The heavily damaged building is next door to a synagogue, which like many synagogues in southern Israel is located inside a bomb shelter.

During the barrage of rockets from Gaza, most Israelis huddled in bomb shelters.

Damage in apartment of many killed in Ashkelon by Hamas rocket

This view of the apartment where the man was killed shows part of the destruction.

Damaged building in Ashkelon where man was killed by rocket from Gaza

The kitchen reminded me of the home in Kiryat Malachi in 2012, where 3 people were killed by a Hamas rocket that hit their building during Operation Pillar of Defense. 

Damaged apartment of man killed by rocket hit in Ashkelon

While the apartment in Ashkelon was destroyed, the fish bowl that sat on a shelf and the flat screen TV next to it were unscratched.

Room of Apartment in building damaged by rocket in Ashkelon

Besides the apartment of the dead man, other families in the building were severely affected.

Damage of home ruined by Hamas rocket in Ashkelon

The property loss to the apartments on the side of building that was hit was extensive.

Ashkelon shopping strip near damaged building.

Though restaurants in Sderot without bomb shelters were forced to close, these stores next to the damaged building in Ashkelon were open for business as politicians arrived all day to make statements to the media eager for a story.

The building which took a direct hit with a fatality got a bit of coverage and media interest.

But Ashkelon, a city of 150,000, suffered more damage. After a sleepless night with repeated warnings of incoming rockets, many properties were damaged.

Safe room in Ashkelon home damaged because of Gaza rocket

This safe room saved a family from harm.

They were not directly hit, but a rocket that hit the roof of the building next door caused their windows to shatter.

Take a few minutes and hear a father explain his pain.

Playground in Sderot empty on day of from school because of rocket attack from Gaza

There was no school in the south, but there were no children playing on this Sderot playground.

With the constant rocket barrage, staying in or near a bomb shelter was the only wise thing to do.

MDA in Sderot ready during crisis

Across the street, Yonatan Yagodovsky of MDA first gave us instructions where to go for a red alert. Only afterwards did he describe the work and dedication of MDA over the years, and especially during the last few days.

Scene of fire from gas explosion at Sderot bakery

Sderot took direct hits from from rockets this time. Thanks to the Iron Dome not all rockets from Gaza cause damage.

However, a piece of shrapnel that fell caused a fire at this bakery.

Fire in gas tanks hit by rocket shot down by Iron dome

Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi told how three gas tanks behind him exploded and destroyed the bakery. It took hours to control the fire.

Kissufim road empty during crisis in southern Israel 500 missiles in one day

Next stop was Kissufim, note how empty the roads were in middle of the day.

Sorry I missed getting a photo of the MDA ambulances parked next to a bomb shelter at a bus stop.

Ambulances were out on the roads ready to roll in an instant, but I saw no military vehicles.

Rocket from Gaza landed between these homes caused damage to trees and homes

Kissufim is a small community near the Gaza border fence.

Over night, a rocket had fallen between this row of homes.

Glass windows were shattered. Shrapnel marks were evident.

Tree branches scattered all around.

There were no serious physical injuries as all stayed in safe rooms.

Baby seat in back of car damaged by Hamas Rocket on Kissufim

At another site on Kissufim, this car window was damaged and the baby seat exposed. Here damage was from shrapnel of a rocket which landed nearby on a pile of mulch.

kissufim home near Gaza border

This is the home next to the damaged car.

500 rockets. Rockets fell on the beach. Rockets fell between houses.

I kept thinking that it was one mini-miracle after another.

Gaza piles garbage near fence with Kissufim

Our guide at Kissufim made sure to point out the mountain of garbage over the border fence, rising from the former flat fertile fields in Gaza.

Bomb shelter on parking lot at Yad Mordechai "this area is not safe"

“This area is not protected” reads the warning not to stand near the opening in this bomb shelter in parking lot of Yad Mordechai.

We missed a red alert warning which went off before we arrived at Kissufim.

As we were to leave from Yad Mordechai, a red alert went off. Instead of running into this dark shelter alone, I headed to the one inside the restaurant where everyone gathered, waited, and then dispersed.

Residents are tired of living on the front lines of an area where they are not protected.

View of Ashkelon near sunset from moving bus

We drove back to Jerusalem, past Kibbutz Saad, past Ashkelon, as the sun set.

Terror. Anger. Frustration. Miracles. Israel.

17 Years Southern Israel Under Attack from Gaza

17 Years Southern Israel Under Attack from Gaza

The last Israelis in the Gaza Strip were forced from their homes 13 years ago.

Since 2001, 25,000 rockets and missiles have hit southern Israel from Gaza.

Eighty-one communities are under fire, on the front line of a war zone.

Seven months ago a new terror method by the Sons of Zawari in Gaza began in the form of fire kites and balloons.

Damage from fire balloons and kites along highway in southern Israel

These blackened areas show the result of this assault on the environment.

One of the southern border cities most under attack is Sderot.

New train station in Sderot is bomb shelter

The new Sderot train station has a cement bomb shelter cover.

Sderot train station is bomb shelter Israel

From the highway the train station appears inconspicuous.

Caterpillar Park in Sderot Israel for protection of children from rockets

Because of missile and rocket attacks, in 2008, the ‘Caterpillar’ park was established as a safe haven for children on playground when an alarm is sounded.

Inside caterpillar cement structure for child to run in Sderot Israel playgournd

The Legacy Heritage “Park of Good Wishes” has grown over the years.

More cement pipes have been added as missiles continue to fall.

Bomb shelters in school in Ashkelon Israel

Not only in Sderot, but in Ashkelon as well, all new school buildings have cement roofs.

Half a billion dollars has been spent to provide bomb shelters in southern Israel.

This month a bomb shelter “safe room” saved a mother and her three children when a rocket made a direct hit on her house in Beer Sheva.

Sderot school with bomb shelters on field where children play

Not only safe rooms, but these decorated free standing bomb shelters have been erected in this new school playground next to the garden that the children are tending.

Sdeort AMIT high school southern Israel

Bomb shelters stand near bus stop for the local AMIT high school. Solar panels are visible over the cement roof that was added to protect students.

Israel bomb shelter near road

A street crossing, a bomb shelter; seconds to run to safety has become a way of life.

new building in Sderot Israel seen from view on Hesder Yeshiva roof

In spite of all, Sderot is growing and it is hard to keep up with the building demand.

Sderot view from top of yeshiva

In all directions, construction and cranes are a regular feature in Sderot.

Display in Sderot police station of rockets from Gaza

Meanwhile, the missiles, rockets, qassams collected and displayed in the Sderot police station have multiplied.

View of northern Gaza from Israel border

Near the Israel border Gaza and the sea are in full view.

Northern Gaza near Israel border

With a zoom lens from this Israeli vantage point Gaza looked peaceful.

Gaza as seen from Israel border

Northern Gaza has expanses of open land.

Northern Gaza view from Israel border

I will not flood you with all the photos like this I took of Gaza.

Ashelon power plant which supplies electricity to Gaza

But here is the Ashkelon power plant which supplies Gaza with power, even when Isarel is under attack.

Under the white balloon is the security camera operating over the the Erez Crossing.

Security wall in southern Israel

Behind this security wall 81 Israeli communities are growing, but weary of being under fire.

This wall decorated with the way to Shalom, Peace, looks much the same as it did my last visit.

Here is photo of the second wall in 2016.

Thousands of visitors have come through, and added their ceramic pieces to the wall.

Today the path to peace only appears further away.

Netiv Ha'Asarah entrance moshav near Gaza border

Netiv Ha’Asharah is a lovely, growing moshav on the border.

Israel near Gaza border art piece decoration

Thousands of residents of the south go about their daily lives under constant threat.

Netiv Ha'Asara new house olive tree as sunset.

Building new homes, planting new olive trees, working, trying to protect and provide for their families.

However, tired of being on front line of war zone, after years of feeling they are ignored, the “backyard” of the country, residents are speaking up.

Walking home on a recent Friday night after dinner, Miri’s family was in the open, not near a shelter when missiles from Gaza fell on Sderot without warning. There was nothing to do but cover their children with their bodies. This is not a way to live, she and others are demanding action.

A group of students who have grown up under threat from Gaza terror are marching, on their way to Jerusalem.

One hundred high school students are on a five-day walk from Sderot to Jerusalem, Israel to the Knesset.

Quiet for 17 years, but no longer, residents of south want to live in peace and have their anguished voices heard.

For more information: check Sderot Heritage Center: HERE