And The Rockets’ Red Glare…

Rockets and Red Glare just seem to go together so well, especially where I live.

I’ve been here on Kibbutz Sa’ad for over five months now.  I’m about 8 kilometers southwest of S’derot and about 4 kilometers from the security fence with Gaza.  My Kibbutz is located in an area designated as “Otef Azza”, or “wrapped-a round Gaza” – the area that is within range of Qassam Rocket fire from Gaza.

Coming to live here, I was aware of the security situation; but I didn’t fully experience it until a few weeks after I settled in.  6:30 in the morning on October 30th was my first “Tzeva Adom” or “Color Red”.  This was only the first of many more to come.  “Tzeva Adom” means that a Qassam is in the air and on it’s way and you have anywhere from 10-12 seconds to find cover.  Here on Kibbutz Sa’ad though, there really is nothing to do when you hear the call of the loudspeaker.  Most houses here don’t have safe rooms.  So I, like most others here on Sa’ad, just wait and hope that the boom isn’t too loud – the louder it is, the closer it fell.

Qassams have been launched from Gaza on to the Israeli civilian population since 2001.  Over 180,000 civilians live under the threat of rocket attack, and that number is only growing as their range now includes Ashkelon and will soon include other major cities like Ashdod and Tel Aviv.  Seven years that Qassams have been falling on homes, stores, restaurants, schools, and a college.  Innocent civilians are scared for life, maimed both physically and psychologically.  There are kids in Sederot who don’t know what it’s like to live without the threat of rocket attack.  Dogs in Sederot and cows on kibbutzim have been known to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Just in the last two months, an 8-year old had his leg taken off and a student from Sapir College, a young husband and father, was killed.  Not to mention all the others who were, and are, being affected.  And for anyone who thought that the unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005 would make things better, it didn’t.  Thousands of Jews were ripped from their homes, their lives, while three years later, the Qassams keep coming.

Most of the Qassams are fired in the direction of Sederot, but there are still rockets that go to the kibbutzim and moshavim in the area.  Within the last month, hundreds of Qassams have been fired on to Sederot and the surrounding area.  It’s not like the intifada, where busses were blowing up and people didn’t feel safe going out to cafés and restaurants; people can’t even feel safe in their own homes.  A Qassam can hit a café just as easily as it can hit a car or a school or a house.  They’re not very accurate, but the bigger the target, the better chances of hitting something, or someone.

What exactly is a Qassam?  It’s a homemade rocket, quite simple really.  Take a water pipe for the body, sugar and potassium nitrate (fertilizer) mixed together for fuel, and pack it with explosives and shrapnel for a grand effect.

Old water pipes, screws, nails, and fertilizer (read COW POOP) can all be found in the junkyard of any agricultural community (read MY KIBBUTZ).  They can also be conveniently found in a Qassam rocket!  Hamas and Islamic Jihad are digging up the water system that ISRAEL put in to Gaza and are firing them right back at us!  The fertilizer also comes from Israel and one could only assume that the sugar comes from the UN food aid.  Great use of the food aid and props to the UN for keeping an eye on how their “aid” is being used!  And whoever thought that Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty, well it’s only on paper.  Egypt has looked the other way, and even at times actively helped, as explosives and weapons are smuggled through the border.

Basically, anything that is in Gaza that could be a potential building block in developing a modern, humane, dare I say, happy, society is being bundled up, packed tight and fired on civilians.  What we use to cultivate the land and bring produce, they use to terrorize.  What we use to build houses, schools and restaurants, they use to terrorize.  Our sugar is their explosive.  If they really wanted peace, if they really wanted a state of their own, they would realize that they have the tools, they just aren’t using them the right way.  Which begs the question: What are they actually trying to achieve?

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