Less than twenty-fours after the funeral of Sgt. Yisrael Lutati of Neveh Dekalim, who was killed at an IDF outpost near Morag, another blow fell upon the community: a mortar shell struck the home of Tifferet Tratner, 24, killing her.

Last Friday at approximately 10:00 a.m., the shell struck the tile roof of Tifferet’s home, causing it to collapse. At the same time Tifferet was sitting on the sofa in her living room underneath the place where the ceiling collapsed. Neighbors arrived quickly and at first thought that no one was inside, but discovered Tifferet after clearing some of the debris. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Tifferet, originally from Jerusalem, lost her mother to cancer when she was fourteen. She did her national service at a seminary in Netzarim and at the petting zoo in Neveh Dekalim, fell in love with the place and the people and decided to remain. Tratner’s brother-in-law, Hanan Wiesner, lost his father in a terror attack in Netzarim. It was Hanan who identified her body two days ago.

Tifferet lived in a rented apartment belonging to Dudi Malka, who said that since the beginning of the Intifada four mortar shells have landed in front of his house. “They all fell near the house, a few meters away. Now it’s a direct hit.”

Tifferet worked in Neve Dekalim at a rehabilitation center for elderly people and was known in the community as a dog groomer. “Although the mortar shells fell near her fairly often and bullets whistled near her home, she loved the place,” said Eli Mozes, a neighbor who adopted her together with his family. “People pay a price for living here, a price too great to bear. She was very angry that people were growing up here and living here, and suddenly along comes the prime minister and wants to give terrorism a present.”

Tifferet was buried a short time before the beginning of Yom Kippur in a restrained funeral that took place at Har Hamenuhot in Jerusalem. Because time was short, no eulogies were given. She is survived by her father, four sisters and a brother.

Until today 4,562 mortar shells have been fired at Gush Katif, three of which caused fatalities. The first was Sgt-Maj. Barak Madmon, who was killed by shrapnel at Kfar Darom approximately three years ago. Last week attacks on the bloc escalated, and on Friday seven mortar shells were fired at its settlements. Last night two more Kassam rockets were fired, with no casualties.

Gush Katif is having difficulty containing its anger. “Sharon keeps inciting for the murder of Gush Katif residents by winking at the terrorists, since the terrorists will accomplish whatever the compensation payments do not,” said bloc spokesman Eran Sternberg. “We wouldn’t be surprised if the next mortar shells have ‘From Sharon with love’ written on them.”

In response to the attack on the outpost at Morag and the continued rocket fire, IDF troops, with support from tanks and bulldozers, entered the western neighborhood of Khan Yunis last Friday night. The residents were called upon by loudspeaker to leave their homes, and the bulldozers destroyed thirty-five homes.

In the morning the residents returned to their homes and began searching for personal effects among the ruins. According to data from UNRWA, forty-seven homes were demolished. Two hundred forty-six people were rendered homeless. According to the IDF, Neveh Dekalim had been fired upon from these homes.

IDF troops remained in controlling positions in Khan Yunis. “We will take the gloves off,” IDF officials said. ” We will operate with more force and fewer limitations on its use. In every place where there is mortar or Kassam rocket fire we will go deep into the territory in an aggressive manner, including demolishing homes. The more violent the Palestinian struggle becomes, the more the IDF will lower restrictions on the use of force.”

This article ran in Yediot Aharonot on September 26th, 2004