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Israeli voices: Still under fire

Three Israelis say the fear of attacks from nearby Gaza is just as great as it was before the recent conflict. Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip was aimed at significantly reducing Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel.

ATARA ORENBUCH, mother of six children, Sderot
Atara Orenbuch

Today we had two Qassams. Every time there's a red alert, you drop everything and run to shelter. You lose a heartbeat each time.

I know my children are safe in school, but it's the journey there and back I worry about. The terrorists love that time between 0730 and 0800.

Every morning, we get into the car and we don't know how it will end. I've felt like that for eight years.

All these little things we think are normal, but they're not. Like someone else listening out for you when you're in the shower, because you can't hear the siren in the shower.

I reconsider five times before taking the children to a playground.

The kids have their own rooms, but they all sleep together at night, in the room with concrete walls. That way they don't have to run in the middle of the night - you only have 20 seconds once you hear the siren.

When we leave for a weekend with the children, we drive straight out of town without stopping. We've lived with these things for eight years.

Map

After the war there was one week of quiet. My heart was calmer and I felt secure. But once the first Qassam exploded after the war - that was it. The war didn't do enough.

We moved here as a family 10 years ago. Three of our six children were born here. It was quiet 10 years ago, there wasn't the slightest idea we'd be part of all this.

I don't even know why it started eight years ago. One thing I do know: since Israel left Gaza, it has got worse, that's for sure.

OMRI BARSHESHET, Ashkelon

Omri Barsheshet

I live in Ashkelon and go to college in Sderot. I think Sderot gets it worst; but Ashkelon is a bigger city so maybe there's more chance of someone getting hurt there.

After the war in Gaza it was a bit quieter, but now it's just the same as before. We usually get one or two alarms every day.

The rockets usually fall south of Ashkelon, but last weekend one fell inside a schoolyard. I live in the north of Ashkelon, so they don't usually come too close to me.

I welcomed the war [in Gaza], but only because we were targeted by bombs. But in fact, it hasn't achieved anything. I feel no more secure.

We shouldn't have ended the war when we did. We should have destroyed Hamas, it's perfectly possible. Nothing is bullet-proof or pressure-proof.

What the war did achieve was to empty billions of shekels from our country's treasure chest.

I feel sorry for the people in Gaza; they are ruled by a terrorist organisation which just wants to shoot rockets.

RAN ALON, Sderot
I was born in Sderot, this is my city, I love it very much.
Ran Alon

In the peaceful days - about eight years ago - it was great with the Palestinians. We could sit around together and have a laugh. But there's no chance of that now.

There is no trust anymore. There have been about six or seven rockets in the last few days, in or around the city.

We had this war to stop these missiles, but it hasn't stopped. Whether it's one or 20 rockets, it's still the same. People have lost their ordinary life; you're always thinking about where the next rocket will explode.

It's a catastrophe on all sides. All the Israelis and the Palestinians I know, we all blame Hamas. No-one else.

I totally supported the war; Israel had given the Palestinians a long time to stop these attacks. But finally, the government showed it was willing to protect people in southern Israel.

I still think Hamas is to blame. Hamas made it very hard for Palestinians; civilians died and this is hard to know. Nobody wants to see civilian deaths.

But we're dealing with inhuman people. They know only one way, we cannot talk to them.

The blockade is really hard. It's making everybody miserable, not just Hamas. But I don't see any other way to push the Palestinians to fight against Hamas.

One good thing has come from the war: Egypt has taken control of the Rafah border. It's finally trying to control the smuggling.



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