Paul Calvert hears the stories of two residents, and visits an Israeli police station witnessing shelves of rockets that have been fired from Gaza.

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For 17 years we have been feeling we are in a war situation and after 17 years from this past weekend I decided this is enough, I want to talk as much as I can as a mother, to speak up and share this around the world. I feel that no-one is watching or hearing about this. I decided that from here on I am not going to be quiet. I will be sending a message to the world that this should not be going on, we are living here on the front line in Sderot. We are in a war here against radical Islam.

If it's Iran it's a war that we have to be defeating. In wartime we have responsibility to defeat and to actually win this kind of war when the whole purpose is to try killing us every single day."

Noam also took us to meet a lady who has lived in the area all her life.

Life Under Fire In Sderot

"I am 65 years old. I can tell you two things, first of all about the personal experience because many people ask "How many people died here?" Considering the years, which is 17 years, and considering the number of missiles, which is more than 20,000, you can say maybe 30 or 40 people is not so much. I don't even know the number, because I think every person counts.

A girl from my Kibbutz, she grew up with my daughter and she died, she was killed by a mortar. Most of the victims are from the mortars, because the mortar is very quick. Even the 15 seconds, which is a very short time is not enough. Many time the mortar comes first and then the alarm after. She was in a Moshav (agricultural settlement), next to the northern part of the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. She died on the spot, she had no chance. She was 22 years old. This was 14 years ago. My daughter is now married; she graduated and had two kids and this girl Dana will remain 22 forever.

It's not about how many people, every person counts in Judaism. In Hebrew we say, "If you save one soul it's like you save a whole world."

Another thing I want to tell you as a person who lived here my whole life, I have perspective of different years. Until 2000 the border was open and the situation with Gaza was much more normalised. It was much better for us, but mainly for them.

Gaza in the distance
Gaza in the distance

Gaza is sometimes referred to as a big prison. They say, "We feel like in a prison." They are prisoners, I am sorry to say this, because of their own regime. Because since Hamas was elected, not only the situation did not stay the same, it is going worse and worse. Until 2000 the border was open and they could go out, and thousands of Palestinians would go out every day to work, and the salaries were better. They could work here and could go almost everywhere. They could study and education was better.

Also people knew people. I knew people from Gaza. The electricity guy in our Kibbutz, Jamal, was from Gaza. He used to come every day. If I had a problem I would say "Jamal can you go inside my house, fix this and this?" So people knew people from both sides.

The border was closed in 2000 because of the Intifada (uprising) because of the people exploding people, busses, and because of all this terror and violence. The main thing is they don't accept us and since then the situation is much worse.

Also this whole generation, think about it, 18 years, the young generation, they don't know each other like we used to know.

I think the basis for peace, which I pray for, is normalising the situation and people knowing people."

Noam took us outside to an Israeli police station, where they had shelves of rockets that had been fired from Gaza, and they gave us an explanation.

Rockets at the police station
Rockets at the police station

"Over here we have 20 types of rockets of different sizes and different lengths and colours. They were different colours, but they spray painted over them."

"Where do you think the metal is coming from?" he asked.
"What does it look like?"
"These are street poles; water pipes, sewage pipes that Israel put into the Gaza Strip, that are being used for terrorist activities."
"The explosives where is that coming from?"
"On the trucks that supplies into Gaza. On those trucks you have fertiliser, sugar that are supposed to be used for the population in Gaza, these are used as explosives of Qassam rockets. So you are having civilian infrastructure being used for terrorist activities. That is part of the challenge we are dealing with today."
"A regular rocket that is fired towards you has an impact of 100 meters of complete damage. The larger missile that are coming from Iran have an impact of 300 meters of complete damage. One that hit Be'er Sheva recently was a Grad missile causing huge damage and can destroy an entire house easily."

It was a very interesting day in Sderot and the surrounding area. Without a doubt the people near the Gaza border are suffering in Israel, but so are the people in Gaza with a fundamental Islamic regime like Hamas. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.