a different side of Israel

Tag: Sderot

Someone’s Looking out for Sderot

Liane Thompson, an American producer and director based in Tel Aviv, is working to create a feature-length documentary called “Children of Missile City” about the 7,500 children caught up in the ongoing rocket war between the southwestern Negev and the Gaza Strip. Studies suggest that nearly 90 percent of the children in Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the only clinic available to treat them, The Resilience Center, is in danger of closing come December.

PTSD has the children so paranoid of the noise that even a loud microphone in the mall can startle them. And though there is a lull right now after Hamas took a walloping from Operation Cast Lead earlier this year, but it’s only a matter of time before the rocket attacks begin again. Until then, consider donating to the Resilience Center.

Human Rights Watch Admits Hamas Rockets Are War Crime

Qassam LaunchHere’s something that’ll knock your socks off. Though, most Israelis this time of year don’t even wear socks – just sandals – so I guess Israelis just won’t be all that affected. That is, Human Rights Watch just published a report about Hamas’ rocket attacks since November ’08. And here go the socks: They actually said that firing the rockets was ILLEGAL, and VIOLATED INTERNATIONAL LAW and constitutes a “war crime”.

My question is, what about the years 2000-2007 when 23 Jews were killed by Qassam and mortar fire? Were those legal? Did international law suddenly change last November?

This eerily reminds me of 1991 back when the UN reversed its 1975 resolution that Zionism is Racism. Some Israelis were so ecstatic about that little reversal, though others just sat back and folded their arms. What is so earth shattering about the fact that the UN admits that Zionism is not racism if the Security Council, the world body responsible for maintaining world security, is going to admit Syria to its ranks, but forbid Israel from ever having a seat there? What’s the difference if the UN keeps singling out Israel for criticism?

And what is the significance of a Human Rights Watch report condemning Hamas for war crimes if, as we all know, Hamas couldn’t care less about human rights? The rockets will continue to fall whenever Hamas feels it’s had enough time to resuscitate itself, and the only reason they’ve stopped for now is that they’re scared. Not that they suddenly respect the idea of human rights.

Though these types of things are certainly nice and they make us feel better for about two minutes, they have very little relevance. The de facto Islamic government in Gaza does not care about international law. They care about liberating all of Palestine at all costs. As long as they have hope that they can do that, the rocket fire will never stop.

Disappointing two days in Washington

Bibi and ObamaNo sooner did Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu go off to Washington, a Hamas fired rocket hit a residence in the town of Sderot, the first in over two months. One woman was lightly injured when the rocket slammed into a storeroom in her back yard damaging it and her home as well. She was taken to Ashkelon’s Barzelai Hospital for treatment, and some other people were treated locally for shock. Later on, Israeli Air Force planes attacked targets in Gaza in retaliation, including areas in the Philidelphi corridor where suspected smuggling tunnels might be located.

Coincidentally, Noam Schalit, father of captured Israeli solder Gilad Schalit, was touring the town together with Rome Italy mayor Gianni Alemanno. Schalit said that he “doesn’t envy Sderot residents” and both men wished that the town would be spared further attacks. Schalit said he is “waiting patiently to receive good news regarding his son’s release.

It seems like nothing ever fails to cause problems when a prime minister is away, especially when going to try to get assistance from the new U.S. president regarding even greater dangers in the region, the Iranian nuclear weapons program. At the conclusion of Netanyahu’s visit with President Obama, the Israeli prime minister appeared to come out on the short end with Obama pressuring Netanyahu to freeze the building of new settlements in the West Bank as well as to start preparing for a two state solution. Obama did confirm that his plan includes making sure that a new Palestinian state would be de-militarized and that it would not be allowed to ally itself with countries that are in a state of war with Israel. How this plan would work in actuality is up to speculation, especially due to the radical Hamas faction (not so far included in this plan) being friendly with both Iran and the Hezbollah party in Lebanon, also said to be virtual proxies of the Iranians.

For his part, Netanyahu promised the President that Israel would not attack Iran, after receiving the President’s assurances that his administration “will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power”. How that is going to be guaranteed is also very much up in the air, especially with Iranian president Ahmadinejad announcing the successful launching Wednesday of a new 2,000 km range missile

Meanwhile, American CIA chief Leon Panetta was quoted as saying that if Israel tries to go it alone in regards to attacking Iran, “it will be in big trouble”; especially since such an attack is virtually impossible without some form of coordination with the U.S. and other countries. Panetta added that his country “has the US government’s full attention” and that the last thing the US wants to see is a “Middle East nuclear arms race”.

It appears that Bibi wasn’t the only one benefiting from the trip, as his wife Sara didn’t have a formal meeting with Michelle Obama. Oh well, maybe Sara got to go to the malls.

Sounds Of War – Alarm Announcement in Sderot on National Radio

You have to live here and be an Israeli I think to realize how (tragically some say) we quickly adapt to our tumultuous environment. There were several issued with the alarms (Red Alerts) in several cities. It was an intermittent issue and the local municipalities in the South really did their utmost to resolve these issues. But the fact remains that when you are in the South of Israel (an hour from Tel Aviv) you can be driving in your car and a Red Alert sounding will not be heard.

SO.. The national radio channels Galatz and Galgalatz both managed by the IDF are announcing the alerts in real time as they get them from the Army. Even if they are in the middle of a song or any broadcast they calmly announce the city and ask you to go to the shelters.

What is strange is the sometimes stark contrast between the music and the announcement as the announcer in this case mentions…. take a listen:


Gaza – The Information War

The war in Gaza and its surrounding Israeli cities is waging still, with no clear end in sight. Yet in this age of abundant technology and streaming information, there is also a propaganda war simultaneously going on via television networks, personal blogs, and YouTube videos. One enthusiastic even programmed a simple video game to demonstrate the war tactics, as he sees it.

This is a brief collection of home-made videos, news briefings, and the aforementioned notorious game.

Danny Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN speaks about the war, 12/28/08:

“Raid Gaza” Flash Game – Gain Extra Points for Bombing a Hospital:

Annie Lennox on the Humanitarian perspective:

Qassams on Europe, a fictional cartoon:

2 Qassams are launched while CNN’s Paula Hancocks reports from the border:

When the alarm goes off, people in Sderot have 15 seconds to find cover:

Sderot “The Musical”

It’s amazing to think that while we here in the center of Israel are carrying on a normal life there are Israelis an hour away living in a constant state of fear and under the imminent threat of a “Red Alert”. This is in Hebrew but I think anyone can understand what it’s all about…


Qassam Rockets — Until When?

These numbers don’t include statistics from December 2008 (this month).

Can you imagine the US, France, or India being hit by several hundred rockets a year? Can you imagine them being hit by even a single one?!

I’m not saying I have a solution for this situation. I’m just saying it’s unthinkable.

Rice In A Hot Winter

The rockets and violent exchange with Hamas have brought in Rice today. We haven’t seen her since the Bush visit in January and the promise of Middle East peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of his term – hmm.. hmm..
Well, now there is a little problem called Hamas.

Condi is still supportive of Israel;

“There has to be an active peace process that can withstand the efforts of rejectionists to keep peace from being made, the people who are firing rockets do not want peace… They sow instability, that is what Hamas is doing… Hamas is doing what might be expected, which is using rocket attacks on Israel to arrest a peace process in which they have nothing to gain”

Hot WinterBut, the Hamas control of Gaza is a problem and one that is increasingly making Mahmoud Abbas looking weak. Since Hamas can’t be negotiated with, there is no way to declare a cease fire because a cease fire with a terrorist organization would make Hamas the legit ruler of the PA. In affect cutting off Abbas completely.

Abbas himself is in a bind. He called off talks with Israel on Sunday and then called for a cease fire that he would be the mediator in on Monday. By being the mediator he could claim to be the peace maker and the political leader of the PA. Weather or not Hamas will let that happen remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, “Hot Winter” (the name for the current operation) is rolling along. Hamas is continuing with the rocket attacks on Sderot and in recent days Ashkelon. The military assault by both land and air continue and there is a feeling that they are taking their toll on Hamas. Givaati (the combat unit fighting in the South of Israel) commanders are happy with results. It seems that lessons were learned from the war in Lebanon and that troops have been able to operate well in a very complex environment.

Barak while visiting the North border, sent a message to the residents of Gaza, calling for a cessation of rockets attacks and acts of terror inside Israel. When such activities will cease, the road will open for a different reality of peaceful and neighborly coexistence between the two sides. The activity in Gaza will continue for some time – it will not be a quick solution.

Barak was in the North as part of a “house warming” for 1,700 bomb shelters that were renovated in the last 8 months. The renovation spanned the North of Israel and included Akko, Naharia, Tiberius, Carmiel, Qiryat Shmone, Tzfat, Maalot, Hazor HaGlilit and Shlomi…
Let’s hope we won’t need them….

Hat Tip Picture: Amir Cohen

Back to Kassam School in Sderot

The beleaguered Israeli town Sderot, only a ‘stones throw’ or in this case, a Qassam rocket launch away from Gaza, “celebrated” the new school year today, September 3, being once again under a barrage of Palestinian launched Qassam rockets. When it had been announced earlier by local municipal authorities that the town of 15,000 would start the 2007/08 school year like every other Israeli community, their “neighbors” in the Hamas led Palestinian Gaza Strip decided otherwise. These “good neighbors” shot not less than 7 home made missiles into Israel, one of them actually striking a kindergarten and sending more than 20 children to hospital for treatment from severe trauma and shock.

The afternoon news broadcasts, showing scores of Sderot residents and police scurrying for the shelters, was a sad reminder that this type of harassment is far from over. Despite Prime Minister Olmert appearing on television with a warning that these kind of incidents will not be tolerated by Israel, it can only be wondered if the Palestinians will take Mr. Olmert seriously. Most likely, they will not.

Previous retaliations against Palestinian terror groups who are involved in this kind of activity have not been very effective; and even if several key terrorists are ‘taken out’ by selective “culling”, there are plenty more volunteers to eagerly take their place. I say eagerly, because it must be understood by all that not only are these people (the Palestinians) not afraid to die, they look forward to the “opportunity” to become ‘Holy Martyrs’ for their cause.

Israeli communities like Sderot and several smaller towns and settlements, including kibbutzim, which lie near the border with Gaza, will most likely continue to suffer these attacks; and larger communities like Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat may soon be targeted as well. It’s no secret that Hamas and other groups have been smuggling many varieties of weapons and explosives into Gaza; and longer range rockets may be part of this new arsenal. Even benevolent people like Arkady Gaydamak won’t be able to do much to alleviate the suffering of the people in areas under fire.

Recently, exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal stated that relations between the Palestinians and Israel cannot improve as long as the Israeli military continues to “massacre” innocent Palestinian civilians. What Mr. Mashaal means by this term is puzzling as the IDF tries very hard to minimize civilian casualties among the Palestinians despite unfortunate incidents such as the deaths of three Palestinian children during a recent IDF military operation. With Palestinians having some of the most densely populated cities and towns in the world, it’s no wonder that occasionally some Palestinians are caught in the line of fire – especially when many Kassam rocket attacks occur from within densely populated areas.

Such is the reality of “back to school” in both the P.A. and some Israeli communities; especially Sderot.

Labor Party Primaries Hardly Noticed In Israel

No One Worth Voting For - Labour 2007With Israel Labor Party primaries only hours away, and on top of current security issues such as the beleaguered town of Sderot and military actions into Gaza, tomorrow’s inter-party primary elections for a new Labor Party leader seem to be so boring that even the most mediocre TV program will probably receive better ratings.

The three front-runners, including present party leader and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, also include former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and a newer ‘kid on the block’ former Naval Chief Ami Ayalon; who appears to be the front runner, and the only new face among a group of hopefuls whose aspirations are not generating any excitement within a political party which is only a shadow of it’s former self.

Peretz, running a distant third behind ‘Rear-Admiral’ Ayalon and Barak ‘The Watchmaker’ (Barak’s favorite hobby is disassembling and reassembling watches and clocks) still thinks he can pull off an upset and retain his present position, made increasingly unstable in the aftermath of the sensational Winograd Report. Amir appears to have delusions of grandeur, however, as pre-primary polls show him able to garner less than 20% of the party vote, compared to Barak’s 31% and Ayalon’s 35%.

Barak also appears to be suffering from a few delusions himself, as his short term as Prime Minister resulted in Israel’s hasty pull-out from Lebanon in May, 2000, followed by the disappointing Camp David Summit later that summer and the Second Intifada in the fall. Even Barak himself seems to have some doubts as he was quoted recently as saying: “if there will be a run-off, I’ll lose it (the election)”.

Ayalon appears to be the only possible man who might possibly be able to bring some new life into the party which was virtually unopposed in Israeli politics for nearly thirty years. But in light of present realities, even he may have an uphill struggle due to infighting within Labor, together with Ayalon’s personal connections with Palestinian Professor Sari Nusseibeh concerning a two state solution for Israelis and Palestinians; a not too popular conception nowadays with Kassam rockets still raining down on Israel’s southern regions. The aftermath of last summer’s war, coupled with the present Hamas led hostilities in the south, has increased right winged feelings and given strength to more hawkish political parties, particularly opposition Likud party leader Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Natanyahu.

In the fall-out from events which may occur during the coming days (especially if the conflict with the Palestinians grows more intense) it may even set the stage for such people as Arkadi Gaidamak to become even more popular at the expense of current politicians, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who appears to holding onto power by the skin of his teeth. If Gaidamak continues to win friends and influence people, as he has with his assistance to Sderot residents and others in distress, even he might be a possible political leader in the not so distant future. After all, with all the millions that Arkady has, he doesn’t need to be corrupt – he has enough money already.

Labor’s chances of being in the next Israeli government are not too good at this point. But Israeli politics often results in strange bedfellows; and when push comes to shove, this party could very well be right in there again, alongside an even more right-winged government. After all, a deal is a deal, even if the ‘menu’ is not too palatable.

People killed in Gaza, Qasams dropping in Sderot – A Video Debate

Things are getting out of hand. Kasams are dropping on Sderot and people are getting killed regularily in Gaza. My mother always told me, “add a little salt to what you hear and a little sugar to what you say”. Please keep that in mind when you see the following videos and/or make your comments. These are taken from YouTube.
Hat Tip: Dave

Israeli Attack on Palestinian Family on Gaza Beach

Sderot mayor on Gaza Kassam barrage: We stopped counting

CBS shows a “forbidden” video of recent events

Unloading Katyusha rockets from a vehicle destroyed by an Israeli aerial attack

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