Israelis Near Gaza Pray for Passover Quiet

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As they commemorate the Passover meal (Seder), Israelis living near the Gaza Strip say they will celebrate with joy, despite the constant threat of rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorists.

Many Israelis from other parts of Israel cancelled reservations to spend Passover in guest lodges near Gaza after a farm worker died in a rocket attack and three Israeli soldiers were killed in firefights with Palestinians.

One local guesthouse manager, Rivka Ben-Ari, said she lost half of her reservations in the days just before Passover. 

"They called and said they were making reservations to show their support--but still canceled at the end," Ben-Ari told Ynet News.

Some residents like Tamara Cohen of the Eshkol Regional Council are hosting relatives from northern Israel, and they will eat the Passover meal in a house that doesn't have a fortified room to protect against exploding rockets. 

"That's okay because it's our house," Cohen said. "I am happy everyone is coming, including those that don't live in the Gaza vicinity communities. We will celebrate with joy, and say a little prayer for peace and quiet."

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi paid tribute to the troops in the Golani Brigade, whose comrades were killed in battle last week.

"The Golani soldiers continued performing their mission. They bit their lips, hurting for their lost friend and commander, but were definitely aware that the people of Israel are safe behind their protection," Ashkenazi said.

One kibbutz near Gaza put an empty chair at the table to remember captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Gaza terrorists more than three years ago.

Sources:  Ynet News, The Jerusalem Post

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