An Israeli TV crew joined us on our trip to Sderot the other day.
They are in the process of shooting a short documentary on Gush Katif refugees in which we appear.
“The bombing of Sderot is a direct consequence of our expulsion from Gush Katif. I feel I should be here – to lend a hand, to write, to bring the Sderot tragedy to the world. This is the Arab response to being given Gush Katif land, buildings, farms and businesses,” I say.
We stop at the Sderot police station. Trays of Kassam rockets are displayed. A group of visiting tourists gape. Each rocket has its own designer label pointing to its factory of origin.
“The Israeli government threw out Jewish grandparents from Gush Katif so that rockets can kill Jewish children,” I cry out in pain.
Today, I learn about the manufacturing of these rockets. The long cylinders are the pipes of Gush Katif hothouses, the explosives are made of Israeli chemical fertilizer, the factories are powered by electricity from Israeli power plants. And under the noses of the Israeli army, the shooters send their vicious weapons to kill, to maim, to destroy the Jewish people.
The TV crew has had enough of Sderot. They flee.
I continue on towards the synagogue that had taken a direct hit. The study hall was still in shambles. Firemen give instructions to the caretaker on how to proceed with repairs. The elderly men who once came to the study hall to learn Torah are terrified of sitting in an unprotected room. The cost of rebuilding the roof is far beyond the means of the congregants. The caretaker begs us for help. Noam Bedein of the Sderot Media Center promises to put their request on his website.
We meet with Chana and Tsefania in their simply furnished apartment. Chana is active in the Sderot Parent-Teacher Association. Brought up on a kibbutz of Holocaust survivors, she thought that having a number tattooed on your arm was natural.
“I feel I’ve returned to the Shoah,” she says. “I live with the tension that at any moment my family and friends could be destroyed. I live in fear every moment of the day.”
Tsefania, of Yemenite descent, was an army career officer. “I was for the Disengagement,” he tells me. “Now I see how wrong I was. This is the result. It’s been quiet for the past three days, but I know the bombings aren’t over. I’m tensed up waiting for the next round, and it will be worse because I’ve let my guard down.”
Noam puts on a disc of film he has taken in a Sderot kindergarten during a Kassam rocket attack. We hear the Red Alert signal. The teacher cries, “Hurry, hurry, children!” Dozens of four-year-olds rush to the shelter, sit on the floor, count back from 10 to 1, and then sing as hard as they can.
“They sing at the top of their lungs so they won’t hear the boom of the rocket exploding,” the teacher explains.
Once again, Jewish children are running for their lives and singing so they won’t hear the sound of the deadly rockets – built with Israel’s assistance – that can annihilate them in seconds.
Please pray for our people.
[Before her community´s expulsion from Gush Katif, Rachel Saperstein was a teacher at the N´vei Dekalim ulpana and a spokeswoman for the Katif Regional Council.]