(Photo: The snake bomb shelter at the local children’s playground)
As I sit here with my trusty keyboard on knee, I wonder what makes staying here in Sderot worthwhile. A few weeks ago, I was in the same chair when I heard the machine gun bullets hitting the house and car across the road. It is not a nice experience, so why do I stay?
I could move, I have a good job in the local high-tech industry and there is nothing to stop me from moving further from the threat just a few kilometres away.
But should I allow myself to be driven from my home?
When I hear the click as the amplifiers switch on to broadcast the “seva adom” condition red alarm, I cannot run for cover. I am 66 years old with a leg that was smashed in an accident, so I cannot move well enough to run. The best I can do is walk briskly, but that is too slow because the incoming missiles usually only give me about ten seconds.
I cannot even get to the shelter in the house in that short time, so I sit it out.
Last week while the missiles were coming in, the alarm went off at the office, so we all piled into the safe room, and the next day people worked from home at the suggestion of HR.
Should I allow myself to get a job elsewhere?
The terrorists want to drive me from my job and my home, and it seems to me the world supports them in their endeavours. Shooting at civilians is supposed to be a war crime, but since it seems Israel is always the guilty party, it would appear shooting Jews is an acceptable ‘war crime,’ and that makes the Jewish State a Middle-East missile magnet.
The IDF does their very best to protect us, but those are our young sons out there defending our country. Two of my three sons served their time in the army. I hate it when the casualties are reported.
I find it difficult to understand why Hamas is supported and Israel condemned. There was a time when the people of Sderot did their shopping in Gaza City. In fact, the two communities lived side by side without too much trouble before Hamas took power, and then it all changed.
The first Iron Dome interception was scary. It was about 2 a.m. just before the 2014 war. The seva adom woke us, and it was followed by a very loud roar and two bangs, it all seemed very close. I recognised the sound from my time on one of Her Majesty’s guided missile destroyers, but others had a very severe fright.
Iron Dome has made a lot of difference to Sderot — the factories are coming back, and that means jobs in the region. But now we are contending with the kites, bush fires, and burning crops. Out of necessity, the police close roads, which causes chaos — I have been caught twice now, once causing a long diversion down to Ofakim last week.
Sderot is a small town, when we moved here six years ago it was quite run down, but donations have come in from communities all over the western world, including from Canada, and it is nice to see the plaques and to know that people out there are supporting us. We are the front line in a much larger conflict that is resulting in incidents of Jihad in diverse places around the world — it just happens here on a weekly basis.
The idea behind the terror is to drive us away, to force us to leave our Sderot homes, to destroy our community. I stay here simply as a way to frustrate that aim. It is where I live, machine guns and missiles, kites and balloons, fires and explosions, it all comes with the location, it comes with the job.
It is Sderot life – l’Chaim.
And last night was one of those nights. It started about 2 a.m., there were numerous booms and bangs and seven iron dome interceptions over Sderot alone — no doubt many more in the kibbutzim further south down the border. It is Shabbat as I write this, but I do not consider this ‘work’. Rather, I consider this a duty to tell the world.
Today we are going to Kibbutz Revivim to see family, but we will probably go via Beersheva to avoid the roads close to the Gaza border. The last missile was over an hour ago, but who knows what will happen for the rest of today? I do know one thing, though – we will stay. This is my home, and I refuse to be driven from it.