Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Ein Gedi Botanic Garden
Seek the serenity of a Judean Desert sky in Autumn at the Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Emergency Personnel Try to Contain the Chaos After a Kassam Rocket Attack in the Western Negev

This was the scene tonight in the western Negev town of Sderot, home to 23,000 souls -- some 5,000 fewer than we have in Arad. One of the infinite Kassam rockets that have been fired at Israel by Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza struck pay dirt this evening, scoring the first fatality since last year. A 35-year-old woman gave up her life when the rocket hit her car as she was standing next to it, near a bakery. She bled to death from stomach and chest wounds on the way to the hospital. A child's worst nightmare come true.

Preparing for Battle Again in the South Land

I have been hearing the planes zooming over my house all day today. I know they are from the nearby air base, the “secret” one near Tel Arad that everyone on the planet knows about.

Dust devils get kicked up by the helicopters as they lift off and touch down in the fields tucked into the hills just beyond the road to Beersheva, but today’s devils are further south, in Gaza.

As I sit at the computer with my fingers flying over the keys, I am wondering where those aircraft are going. Sderot is about two hours west of here, not as the crow flies. I wonder how far it is by plane. After a week of incessant Kassam rocket attacks on the western Negev, it is no surprise that planes are flying here in the south.

Israel Air Force missile strikes on terrorists in Gaza have begun and each side is upping the ante by the day. I have seen this all before.

I remember last May and June, when we often heard the boom of tank fire in the evenings outside our house. We would walk down to the wadi, three houses down, and scan the hills to see where it was coming from, noticing flashes on the ridge by the road that leads to the western face of Masada. “That’s the army practicing maneuvers,” Avi explained offhandedly, attempting to normalize what was clearly target practice for use in the near future in Gaza. We told the kids that new soldiers learn how to use their guns this way. No big deal, we said, turning away.


It was only a couple of weeks later that 19-year-old IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit was grabbed in that cross-border raid near the Kerem Shalom crossing by Hamas terrorists from Gaza. The kid is still there, if he is alive at all. I don’t know whether to pray for his life, or his death. Are Hamas terrorists as evil, as cruel as Hizbullah?

Tonight a woman died after her car was hit by a Kassam while she was standing next to it in Sderot, near a bakery. Two other people were injured and 12 more were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon because they suffered shock. I really think the shock victims should be considered as injured when we make the tallies in the new pieces we write. Trauma lasts a lifetime. My experience as a clinical social worker has taught me that.

We haven’t had a fatality from a Kassam attack since last November – and that one was in Sderot too, mostly because the town is less than a kilometer from the Gaza border. An inviting target.

Arad is too far to be physically affected by all this action. The most we have had were a couple of so-called “near misses” by a terrorist or two, both of whom were caught long before they got close enough to do anything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t psychological consequences.

The kids in Arad are talking about terrorists again and my own are afraid to go into their rooms alone. They’re afraid to be anywhere in the house alone, in fact, and they cry at the prospect of being awake when my husband and I are too tired to stay up. I can still remember when they used to celebrate that possibility as an opportunity to create mayhem, screw up the kitchen in an attempt to bake chocolate cake and dance around the living room half the night. That was in Brooklyn.

Now they talk about nightmares they are having, of terrorists attacking, kidnappers coming, robbers breaking in and houses blowing up. And they don’t watch TV, they don’t hear the radio and when I work my news writing shifts, the door is closed and the kids are not in the room.

We have no TV. We don’t play the radio. They listen to CD’s, most of which are with Jewish music, and see videos of innocuous movies like “Shreck”. The most exciting series they have seen on the computer is “Smallville”, and even then, none of the scary or suggestive segments.

And yet they are terrified. I wonder what the kids in Sderot are like.