by Noam Bedein
Dec 28, ’06 / 7 Tevet 5767
The Tseva Adom (“Color Red”) siren went off at approximately 9:15 pm.
I took out a video camera, donned press credentials and ran outside. Three seconds later, there was an enormous explosion nearby. Running towards to sound of the explosion on a wet road, I arrived as an ambulance evacuated two ninth-grade boys – 13 and 14 years old – to the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
There was a pool of blood and a shoe right near the sidewalk. Four parked cars had their windshields completely shattered.
Another teenage boy was crying, speaking on his cell-phone and shivering as he explained to his mother what he’d just been through. Then, he was evacuated in another ambulance, along with his friend who’d been standing next to him. They were both treated for shock.
This was missile attack number 57 since some kind of ceasefire had been declared by the Israeli government. On the streets of Sderot you can hear over and over, “Oh yeah, ‘ceasefire’. We cease. They fire.”
This 57th rocket landed on Maccabees Street in Sderot only 10 seconds after the siren went off. A friend of the boys who was hit by the missile related that they were running home, but didn’t make it there.
People in Sderot have to think twice before they go out somewhere, not knowing if they will be able to take cover in 15 seconds or less. Sometimes, there is no siren, like the day before the attack on the two boys, when the residents of Sderot were woken up at 6:30 am by a surprise missile attack.
At the scene of the attack, people stood around a bit and talked about their feelings and thoughts.
They did not know what to do first to express their outrage. They discussed wanting to go burn tires, or block roads. They were not sure what to do, but they wanted to do some thing. They kept repeating that there had been an average of two missile attacks a day during this so-called “ceasefire,” with no government response whatsoever.
A grandfather came out of a nearby synagogue crying and upset, completely hopeless that he could not protect his grandson. The boy had been rushed to the hospital, where he is fighting for his life.
A man who saw the boys writhing in pain after the attack had approached them and called the ambulance after seeing that the bones were sticking out of one of their legs, and that the other one had a completely contorted ankle.
All this occurred on Maccabees Street in Sderot less than one week after the celebration of Chanukah, when Jews recite Al HaNisim, the prayer of praise for miracles. Unfortunately, it’s not Chanukah every day, even though there are miracles that happen here every single day. If only these miracles would happen when Jews take action – as in the case of the Maccabees.
People in Sderot depend on miracles, with a feeling of hopelessness. Not able to protect their own family, they are separated from Israel and the world, with no one taking action over the fact that Jewish blood is being spilled. No government is seemingly ready to protect them.
Leaving the scene of the attack, this reporter spotted a social worker going house to house, asking if everyone is OK, and visiting families who come out on the porch in the pouring rain to say “hello.” A mother, caring for her baby, holds the hands of her two young children, both of whom are crying. In a state of panic, she asks for a cab to take them out of there, in the middle of the night. To where? She did not know.
How did Israel get to the situation in which mothers are scared and hopeless to protect their own children, in which people are scared to go out of their homes, to the playground, to school?
Meanwhile, the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah, under the command of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, took credit for missiles that were fire at nearby Ashkelon today.
What is on everyone’s lips in Sderot, however, is that the prime minister of Israel kissed Abbas on both cheeks on Saturday night. He welcomed Abbas to dinner in the Prime Minister’s Residence, where Abbas and his friends were greeted by PLO flags that decorated Olmert’s dinner table.
Reporters’ calls to the offices of the prime minister, the defense minister and the foreign minister, asking if they would demand that Abbas disarm his Al-Aksa Brigades, have gone unanswered. It is easier to blame “outside terrorists,” who disturbed the bloody ceasefire with Abbas; as if Abbas has nothing to do with the bloodshed.
The question remains: Will those who do not live and dwell in Israel’s western Negev demand that the government of Israel take action against Abbas’s terrorists who rain missiles on this region? Or will other Israelis only be satisfied to know that the missiles did not hit them?
What most people in Israel do not understand is that we all live on Maccabees Street.