Israeli city Ashkelon is under constant missile attack by Hamas, but the residents are determined to stand strong. Their deepest desire: a true peace.As the sirens go off and we wait in our shelter to hear the boom of the missiles, we wonder when this will end. For the past eight years there has been constant bombardment of Sderot and the surrounding settlements. This is not about political issues; it is about civilians under extended fire.
In Ashkelon, 122,000 residents have been under fire with little protection. Most homes do not have shelters as they were built in the 1950s and 1960s. The neighborhood shelters are underground and impossible to reach in 30 seconds. Today alone, we have suffered 14 rocket attacks with accompanying physical, psychological and personal damage.
The resolve of our people to stand strong against this onslaught is a direct desire to end a situation where we have to live in fear.
Our children are climbing the walls as they cannot leave their homes. There is no school, and no shopping centers are open. These children are terrorized to the point where even at the ages of six and seven they are wetting their beds. They demand that the light stay on all night, and even then tell of their nightmares the next morning – all this on a daily basis. Our children will need psychological help to overcome their fears of loud noises and sirens.
“I’m not running anymore.”
Our elderly are unable to reach their shelters, even if they have one. They suffer from the ongoing missiles and cannot leave their homes to buy food, get their medicine, or see their doctors. A good friend, who survived five death camps during the holocaust, TB resulting in the loss of a lung, a quadruple bypass, and cancer, sits in his chair and waits for the sirens. He is not moving as it is too difficult. His answer is: “I’m not running anymore”.
The Municipality and the Home Front are doing a great job as far as immediate response to every emergency; however, we are ill prepared in terms of safe rooms and public buildings with secure rooms.
A number of years ago I was involved in building programs and projects on Israel’s northern border (known as the confrontation line). I would watch katyusha rockets hitting the road in front and behind my car. I was fulfilling a Zionist ideological imperative by assisting those in need. Who would have thought that today I would be living in the “new” confrontation line in the south?
The real desire is that this current war comes to an end that provides a strong beginning. We pray for a true peace that can allow us to reach our potential as a people that are involved in developing new medicines, new science and technology. A country that can assist our neighbors in developing their potential as true partners. Can this dream ever become a reality? Herzl said: “If you will it, it need not be a dream”. I think we can sum it up in one word, “tikva” – hope.