Tuesday, December 25, 2007

25-Dec-07: The season to be jolly? A different viewpoint

For many of our readers, today is a day for taking things easy, spending time with family, reflecting on shared hopes and achievements.

Over here in this war-zone, we've seen six Qassam attacks by the Gazan Palestinians on Israel so far today... and the afternoon is only half-way done. No injuries or damage so far, thankfully, but that's good enough for Islamic Jihad to announce that they claim ownership of these "gifts" i.e. take responsibility for these attacks-by-flying-explosives. This sort of hate-based random shooting in every possible direction is why they're called terrorists. The active connivance of the Hamas regime is why we, and much of the civilized world, relates to Hamas a terrorist organization.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, a Pal-Arab Qassam landed in an open field within the area encompassed by the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. Three more of this morning's Qassams crashed into open fields outside the southern Israeli community of Sderot, a city of almost 20,000 people. Two additional Qassam rockets landed south of Ashkelon near the security fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip.

We've learned the hard way how different it is to read about terrorism being practiced on others, and having the terror enter your own life. It's an experience that is hard to convey - a personal, intimate horror.

A young woman who is living in Sderot, Anav Silverman - originally from Maine in the US - has been working with the families who deal with terrorist attacks on a daily basis. She recently wrote the brief report below which we have her permission to share. NOTE: It would be a real service to the people enduring these daily attacks if her letter were passed around as widely as possible.

Here it is:
As part of my job in Sderot, I help facilitate tours in English for foreign visitors -- generally diplomats, government officials, and press personnel. The tours encompass all aspects of living in a rocket reality from visiting unfortified schools, viewing actual Qassam rockets, to speaking with area psychologists, and visiting with trauma victims and their families.

I always get a little shaken up when I visit a family traumatized by a rocket attack. Yesterday was no different, when I visited the Amar family, on Sinai Street, whose home was hit last Thursday. The first person that greeted me was Aliza Amar, sitting in her wheel chair in front of her partially destroyed home. She looks sad and forlorn, as neighbors come by to wish her and her family a quick recovery.

Aliza was hospitalized for almost four days for injury and shock. She explains to me that because she is physically handicapped, she has difficulty escaping to the bomb shelter, once the siren sounds. So when a rocket hit the Amar home on Thursday afternoon, December 13, Aliza, in her wheelchair, could not reach the shelter in time. The 15 seconds one has to escape to shelter once the alarm sounds was not enough time for Aliza. "The force of the rocket fall blew me off the chair, and I slammed into the kitchen wall" says Aliza.

Her home is a site of complete devastation. The ceiling over the kitchen has completely collapsed. The sunlight pours through, illuminating a basket of orange tangerines covered with dirt and dust. Debris covers the entire kitchen floor. A family photo lies nearby, its frame and glass broken into pieces.

"Everything went black, and the next thing I know is that I am lying in the hospital in shock." As Aliza speaks, her nine-year old daughter, Adi tightly holds her mother's hand. I ask her how she feels to have her mother back home but Adi does not respond. Her older brother, Moshe, is quick to explain that from all his siblings, Adi suffers the most from anxiety attacks. "Every time, the siren sounds, Adi runs to those photos of great and righteous rabbis on the living room wall, and kisses them, hoping they will keep her safe," says Moshe.

Moshe is serving his first year in the IDF army. He was not at home when the rocket landed, but stationed at the army base. "As a soldier in the IDF, my job is to guard the jail where the terrorists who launch the rockets are caught and held," says Moshe. "It is a very difficult job for me, especially when I receive a call notifying me that my home and family have been hit. I leave the army base to come to my destroyed home. What am I fighting for?" asks Moshe. " There is no limit to the number of terrorists in Gaza who continue to launch rockets freely against my friends and family in Sderot."

Indeed, Moshe's family is currently living in a hotel in a city nearby as it will take several months for the insurance company to rebuild and fix the extensive damage done to the Amar home. Moshe's father, Pinchas, explains that their house is not the only home that was hit in the Thursday rocket attacks. Their neighbors, the Sasson family, also experienced the rocket attack, although their house sustained less damage and is considered livable.

The mother, Shula Sasson, however was less fortunate. She was transported to the hospital for shock and was treated for brain damage. Her husband and children were also treated for trauma and waited almost a week for Shula's return home.

The Amar and Sasson families, along with the rest of the families on Sinai street, have experienced up to seven rocket attacks on their neighborhood. One of the most traumatic attacks took place in May 2007, when a rocket hit a synagogue which 30 minutes before had been full with 400 congregants. The families on Sinai Street have seen many miracles, but the shock and trauma which results with each rocket attack continues to increase among the residents here.

It is the silence of nine-year old Adi Amar which is perhaps most unnerving and reflective of the trauma which the children of Sderot live through. Although she barely spoke during my visit, Adi's sad and fearful eyes express her feelings more clearly than words. I leave the Amar home, overcome with a sense of helplessness that has come to define the current spirit of Sderot residents.
Anav works in the Sderot Media Center (which is doing more than anyone else around to throw some light on the daily war waged against ordinary people living in Sderot by the terrorist vipers of Gaza). She is a student at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan. Thanks to Judy Balint of Jerusalem Diaries for making us aware of Anav's letter.

1 comment:

Avi said...

Thanks for the great posting on Sderot with Anav's letter. It is so important to get the word out about the situation in and around Sderot. Please check out our programs on Sderot for synagogues, schools and all organizations to use to help create awareness about the situation and raise funds to refurbish and purchase shelters for the people there:


And forward this on to others.