Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Report from Sderot

As you readers may be aware, I live in Sderot, Israel, a town of around 20,000 located around one mile from the border with northern Gaza. This town is famous for how many missile strikes it has absorbed in the decade since Israel withdrew from its Gaza settlements. I think the count is 10,000 missiles.

While larger missiles are destined for bigger cities farther away, we are close, so we are targeted with smaller weapons--typically home-made "kassam" rockets that are welded together in small Gaza workshops, packed with explosives and metal, and then launched across the border right at the homes of civilians here. Outside my apartment are large pockmarks on the street where a couple of these have landed. The facade of my apartment building bears the scars of the shrapnel. (Channel 2 news captured a few of these in their Ulpan Shishi piece about me.) And my living room ceiling bears a round patched hole, testimony to some rocket that pierced the ceiling in the years before I moved in.

After each missile strike, the police come to collect the remnants, which they store on metal racks behind the local police station. There are thousands, the racks are groaning with them. But we are blessed with miracles that these rockets have not killed all that many people in town, because we all scurry for shelter when we hear the red alert warning of a incoming rocket. The situation is improving by technology. There is now a smartphone app that can also sound the red alert. And we have a wonderful missile defense system called Iron Dome that shoots down the incoming rockets. Each of these defensive missiles is launched to intercept a "kassam" before it lands. We hear a pretty big boom, but that's it. Each individual shoot-down missile costs $40,000, it is said. The electronics are expensive. But to save life and limb, we spend that amount many times a day these days.

Iron Dome at work  - example of advanced and reliable life-saving electronics

We are now about to begin a major defensive war. I hope that peace-loving people of Gaza will eventually prevail so that we can live in peace again. My heart aches for the mothers there. Meanwhile, though, we carry on and do what we need to do in our defense.