Some might say that the tiny town of Sderot in the Western Negev is Israel's little secret. This red roofed village an hour's drive from Be'er Sheva lies only minutes from the Gaza Strip. As such, it has been a prime target for Hamas aggression against Israel. Use katuysha rockets to hit a major center, you are in for a war. Bombard a hamlet in the midst of an international conflict, and display your anger.
If in all your reading about the Middle East conflict you haven't heard about Sderot, don't be surprised. You're not the only one. Despite the fact that Sderot has been under nearly constant attack from qassam rockets for the past 7 years, its tenuous position in the buffer zone of Israel and Gaza is conspicuously ignored in mainstream news channels.
For your reference, qassams are homemade rockets made out of pipes with steel warheads at the tip. With a range of approximately 15 kilometers, they are used for short range attacks only. Qassams came into common usage by Palestinians against Israel in 2001 toward the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (also known as the Second Intifida). It is widely acknowledged that their primary purpose is to lower Israeli morale.
Sderot's mayor stepped down after nine years of service. Since the barrage began in 2001, over 6,300 rockets have slammed Sderot.
Mayor Eli Moyal's resignation came in concert with the peace talks that began in Jerusalem, following up on the November Israeli-Palestinian Peace Summit in Annapolis.
In his resignation speech broadcast on Israel Radio, Mayor Moyal explained:
“I cannot take the responsibility to manage a city that is under attack for seven years. If 20 children are killed tomorrow from a rocket, I will be asked, ‘why did you open the kindergarten?’ I have been deliberating matters pertaining to human life for years now, and I cannot continue… For seven years no one has taken responsibility for what is happening here. It is unreasonable to start the morning with eight Qassams. I am not willing to take this responsibility. I was chosen to manage a city, and not this situation.”
Mayor Moyal said he hoped his resignation pressured Israel's government to take action for Sderot's protection.
With 20 qassam rockets hitting Sderot this morning alone, the Israeli blogosphere is contemptuous. Here are some of their reactions.
“Sderot is not on the radar of the ‘peace’ plan. Sderot cannot be found on the roadmap. The 20 rockets that were shot today towards Sderot are not considered an obstacle to peace. It is way too inconvenient to mention Sderot when talking about the sacred ‘peace process.'”
I highly recommend Elder of Ziyon's Qassam Calender as a tool for following this conflict.
“On a day when some twenty Kassam rockets hit Sderot, the peabrains who call themselves a government decided not to send the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] into Gaza today to put a stop to the shooting, and instead decided to talk to the
shooters‘Palestinians’ about giving them their own statereichlet from which they will be able to shoot more comfortably.”
“[Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's lack of leadership, indecisiveness and peace at any cost additude has given Hamas and growing confidence in Israel's vulnerability. Hamas is sending rockets into the Negev with reckless abandon–and snubs their nose at peaceful nations. The world sees a leaderless Israel and is doing its best to push the nation into a one-sided “peace” deal. Its time to show Hamas that terrorism does not pay.”
“Mayor Eli Moyal resigned today. Atlas shrugged. This is a dark day, my friends. This man should be Prime Minister.”
“One does not make peace with one's enemy, but only with one's ‘former enemy.’ That is one very inescapable truth that the
promoters of peace“screw Israel club” have yet to comprehend.”
Response from Palestine
The official Palestinian response came from Muhammad Abd al-Al, spokesperson for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees:
“The resignation of Sderot's mayor constitutes a great victory for the Palestinian resistance. This is a political victory, a victory for morale, it adds to the humiliation we are heaping upon the Zionist army in the field. Our improved missiles are waiting for the enemy's tanks, but the ones who will really suffer are those Israeli residents of the area.”
He additionally threatened: “We and the other Palestinian organizations are prepared for the great struggle to commence and to hurt the Israelis in the West Bank as well. I hope that we will soon begin bringing the technology and know-how needed to launch rocket attacks to the West Bank.”
Listen to an audio file of Mayor Moyal that was recorded during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. (The first minute is rough sound quality, but it is worth it to keep listening for a full understanding of the conflict and Sderot and Israel's struggles.)
Visit the Sderot Media Center and hear Sderot's perspective firsthand.
Return to Global Voices Online's Gilad Lotan's “Sderot's Invisible Wounds” for a more personal perspective of the situation (September 2007).