Israeli DM: Gaza Rocket Assault Will be 'Lengthy'

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ASHDOD, Israel -- For the fourth day in a row, rockets from the Gaza Strip pounded southern Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned "the current escalation is likely to be lengthy."

CBN News was in the southern port city of Ashdod on Sunday when the Color Red air raid sirens sounded, giving residents 15 seconds to take cover.

The news crew, which was just about to set up for an interview, ran to the bomb shelter with everyone else, where CBN News' Chris Mitchell asked one resident what it's like living in such a volatile area.

"I don't even know what it's like for me. I'm so getting used to it," Terri Millstone responded.

"I can't believe…that I've lived here for three years, and I can honestly say I'm getting used to being outside and hearing a siren and running. I'm running out of words," Millstone quipped. "I'm a teacher and I'm a writer, and I'm actually running out of words for how this feels already."

Like nearly 1 million Israelis, Millstone is now living under the threat of rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.

David Dvach, director of the Ashdod Action Center, said it's not easy to live like that.

"It's a very hard situation, actually, for the people and for the kids and for the old people, for the weak people," he said. "It's not an easy situation."

Ashdod, a city of a quarter of a million people, seemed deserted Sunday. For the second day in a row on Monday, officials ordered 200,000 students throughout the south to stay home from school.

Since Friday, Islamist groups have fired more than 160 rockets into southern Israeli towns.

When the CBN News crew drove to Natzim, just a few kilometers from the border with Gaza, the Color Red siren sounded again. There's about a 15-second delay from the time the siren sounds before the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense battery intercepts the incoming rocket or it lands in a nearby field.

About 20 of these rockets have been fired while CBN News was there Sunday, with no signs of a letup in the escalation. 
 
The Iron Dome batteries, deployed in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheva, have intercepted 90 percent of the rockets fired against population centers. Israeli airstrikes have pinpointed some terror cells preparing to launch missiles into Israel.

Knesset Member Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) says the real battle is about Israel's right to exist.

"They're saying, they're declaring, they want to destroy Israel," Hotovely told CBN News. "They don't believe the Jewish state has the right to exist."

"So they're not against Ashdod -- we're standing in the middle of it," she explained. "They're not against Sderot or Ashkelon or the cities in the south or in the center of Israel. They're against the Zionist entity, like they call it."

Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, is reportedly asking Egypt to help negotiate a ceasefire. But until then, it appears southern Israel will continue to be an undeclared warzone.

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