This reporter’s son Noam, a resident of Sderot, described the scene of a synagogue that was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday night at midnight:
“A rocket smashed through the ‘Kolel’, the study room in the synagogue. This is the first time that the Arabs firing rockets from Gaza had scored a direct hit on a synagogue in Sderot. … Only one hour and a half before, the Dahan clan, a veteran Sderot family that consists of 10 brothers and one sister, had celebrated the dedication of a new Torah scroll at the synagogue. This Torah scroll had been written in memory of their father who died last year. Three hundred people – including tens of women, children and elderly people – were dancing and singing in the Sderot neighborhood that surrounds the synagogue, in a ceremony that lasted more than two hours.
“The rockets hit as everyone was leaving. The atmosphere suddenly changed. The synagogue celebration suddenly turned into a scene of screaming children, young teenage girls fainting, with the screeching siren of ‘color red’ sounding three times in little less than half an hour, while a young father fainted in shock, with his teenage daughter trying to comfort him. People were carried out of the synagogue to waiting ambulances … . An 85-year-old man simply stood and stared at the side of the synagogue that had been leveled, as he peered through the new hole through the roof, while pictures of rabbis on the other wall were sprayed with shrapnel. No words can express the looks on his face …”
The next morning, the synagogue collapsed. The new Torah scroll had to be rescued from the ruins of what had been a place of worship for 40 years.
Chronicle Of Sderot On Friday And Saturday
Friday, 8 a.m.: One rocket lands near Sderot with no damage or injuries.
Approximately two minutes later, three more Kassam rockets land in the city. Luckily, the barrage ends with no injuries or damage.
Friday, 8:25 a.m.: Another barrage of rockets. Two of them fall in uninhabited areas while one strikes a wheat field, causing a fire.
Firefighters who already had a great deal of practice hasten there to subdue the fire.
Friday, 9:45 a.m.: Two more strikes. One rocket hits a building directly, while another strikes near a fuel station. One person is lightly wounded while four others suffer from shock. All of them are taken by Magen David Adom [The Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross ] teams to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Two more apartment buildings are heavily damaged.
Friday, 10 a.m.: Many politicians stream into the city. First, it was the Pensioners Party faction, and afterward the Likud faction, led by opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.
Friday, 4 p.m.: Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi visits the city. The chief of staff toured locations where the rockets hit and spoke with families whose homes were damaged by Kassam rockets. He says that the IDF will continue do everything in its power to protect the residents.
Friday, 5:15 p.m.: Several seconds before Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi concludes his visit to Sderot and boards the helicopter back to the central region, the “Color Red” warning sounded in the background once again. One rocket fell in an uninhabited area, while the second struck one of the city’s schools. Magen David Adom teams were summoned to the location once again and evacuated one person who was wounded to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
Friday, 9:40 p.m.: Two more rockets land in the region, one on a Sderot road and the second in the Eshkol local council. One lightly wounded person and three people suffering from shock are treated at the scene by Magen David Adom teams.
Saturday, 11 a.m.: Two Kassam rockets strike the city. A factory is damaged and a fire breaks out in a wheat field on the outskirts of the city.
Saturday, 2:50 p.m.: Another explosion is heard in the city. A Kassam rocket strikes a car, completely destroying it. A city resident, who was at home at the time, is lightly wounded.
Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: In the evening, another rocket strikes the city, landing in an uninhabited area. There are no injuries or damage.
Saturday, 8:45 p.m.: Two rockets are fired at collective moshav farms in the Sdot Negev regional council. There are no injuries or damage.
Saturday, 8:58 p.m.: A Kassam rocket falls in an open area in the Sderot cemetery. In this incident, too, there are no injuries or damage.
Saturday, 9:21 p.m.: A Kassam rocket strikes the building of the secretariat of the Eshkol local council. There are no injuries.
Saturday, 10:26 p.m.: A Kassam rocket is fired at IDF troops in the northern Gaza Strip. There are no injuries or damage.
Saturday night: In light of the continued rocket fire, the municipality holds a situation assessment with the commander of the police’s southern district, Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev. The municipality announced that schools will not open over the next several days.
Meanwhile, yesterday evening, an Indian restaurant in Kibbutz Nir-Am was destroyed when it was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza.
Firefighters tried to extinguish the massive blaze that broke out in the western Negev restaurant but couldn’t prevent it from burning to the ground.
Kibbutzniks Claim to Hear Tunnels Being Dug Underneath
While dozens of rockets have been fired on the western Negev recently, the residents of the kibbutzim in the area are primarily concerned about terrorists and bombs that are liable to make their way directly beneath the kibbutz by means of tunnels.
Israel’s security forces have begun to receive increasing numbers of intelligence warnings about tunnels that are being dug near kibbutzim that abut the border fence. The residents of Nahal Oz, Kfar Azza, Nir Am and Erez have reported on numerous past occasions about noises that were heard from beneath their homes of tunnels that were being dug.
“There is no doubt that the most palpable danger are the Kassam rockets that fall incessantly,” said Betty Gavri, a resident of Kibbutz Nir Am, “but we’re afraid of the possibility of a penetration into the kibbutz by means of tunnels and we’re preparing accordingly. We have direct contact with the security forces, which have been taking action all the time to prevent that.”
The security officers on the kibbutzim reported that as a result of the rise in intelligence warnings that were recently received, the patrols around the kibbutzim were stepped up. “We’ve been dealing these days mainly with intelligence warnings of that sort,” said the security officer of one of the kibbutzim that abuts the border fence with Gaza.
“Reinforcements were sent in and we patrol all day and all night so that we’re not caught unprepared.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007