Sderot Shaken by Persistent Rocket Fire

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CBNNews.com - Since 2001, Islamic terrorists have fired thousands of rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot. CBN News visited the town to find out what life is like on the front lines of Israel's battle with radical Islam.

In Hebrew, Israelis call it "seva adom." In English it's called "code red." It's the alarm that sounds when an incoming rocket is on its way from the Gaza Strip. After the alarm sounds, the people of Sderot have 15 seconds to find shelter before the rocket hits.

For more than seven years, life for the people in Sderot has been like playing Russian roulette. They don't know when the next rocket may fall or where it will land. The human toll has been enormous.

CBN News spoke with Havar Gad, a wife and mother of three. While her nine-year-old son prepared tea and coffee, his mother told us what life is like in Sderot.

"The children here are in stress. Children here sleep with their parents; not only in the same bed but between the parents. It's destroyed the private life. It's destroyed everything in your life," she said.

In fact, just as we stepped inside her home -- the code red alarm sounded.

"Come inside please!" she shouted.

We rushed into the safest part of the house, turned on our camera and waited.

Rockets through the Soul

After the rocket landed, Havar took some valium. She's been on tranquilizers for months. On February 13, a Kassam rocket hit Havar's home and blew a hole in her ceiling.

"It hurt you financially. It hurt you mentally. You saw how many tablets I take," she said. "What happens to make me shake. I'm not shaking because the tablets start to work. I'm going to psychologist once a week."

Hagar Aloni serves as a social worker in Sderot. She helps comfort a town suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

"It's like an earthquake. You can't control it. You can't know whenever it comes. It's very hard to describe it to people who didn't live in a war zone," Aloni said. "Families are falling apart. Because for so long the families are holding themselves. The parents are trying not to show their children that they're having problems as well. But now a days they can't hold it any more."

Increased divorces, sicknesses, even miscarriages are some of the effects from the stress endured by the people of Sderot.

"It was like a big boom. I know, don't think, I know for the first seconds I was unconscious," Aloni said.

On January 15, a Kassam rocket hit Geut Aragon's house with her and her two children inside. When shrapnel from the blast pierced her head, her son took a look at his mother.

"He's like Mommy, Mommy, blood, blood, blood! He was so afraid to see me like this," Aragon said.

What he saw was his mother's face covered in blood. An AP photographer snapped a picture of Geut just after the bomb hit. Her face seemed to capture the seven years of Sderot's suffering.

"It's my soul being hurt, like the Kassam would hit me in my heart, me and my children," she said.

Geut and Sderot will never be the same.

"From that day everything was stopped. I can't work now and the children are frightened more, and everything you say to those children, 'it's okay, it will be okay,' they don't believe," she said. "They're just afraid, they don't sleep and all over Sderot, all the children are like that. The older people are crying all the time. It's not normal to live like this."

Living in the Shadow of Death

Our host, Havar Gad, agrees.

"Children here talk about death a lot. Death. Death. He told me, 'I'm too young to die. I don't want to die,'" she said.

"He tells me, if one of the rockets kills you, I have to sit in your Shiv'ah. It's for the Jewish [people]; if someone dies, you sit in Shiv'ah," she said. "You don't know how to answer. What to tell him. What to promise him. That I won't die from the rocket?"

But it wasn't supposed to be this way.

In August of 2005, Israel completely pulled out of the Gaza Strip. Both the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority promised the so-called "disengagement" would bring peace and quiet.

It did not. Now, one-third of the population of Sderot has left. But Guet and Havar plan to stay.

"I'm still here and I'm going to stay. It's not that I'm not afraid, I'm terrified," Geut said. "But you know, I'm born and raised here. My husband also, and my children, too. I love this place. It's hard, It's very hard. But it's harder to think that's what they want us to do. And I don't know, to let them to win. It feels bad to think that they will beat us."

Havar said, "Last week I talk with my little sister and she told me, 'Rent a house in Ashkelon.' I said the rocket comes to Ashkelon. So, where do I go? To Ashdod? Rockets fall in Ashdod, too. All the time, they are saying they won't relax until they destroy all Israel," she said.

"So where back? To the ghetto?" she added.

Without a major Israeli incursion to take over the Gaza Strip, it's unlikely the rockets will stop. Until then, the people of Sderot will watch and wait for the next siren and the next rocket.

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Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau Chief

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