Israel’s south exasperated with politicians: ‘Our lives aren’t lives’

Despondency describes the feeling of southern residents. Sderot is a “sad and empty city,” one paper reports. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Residents of Israel’s embattled southern region spoke out in anger after a fragile ceasefire was declared on Thursday between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel, following hundreds of missile attacks and red alert sirens that sent them running for cover during a 48-hour period last week.

“This is called a ceasefire? This is called a routine?” one store manager in Sderot told Israel Hayom. “Yes, a delusional routine, between warning sirens. I wish such a routine for all politicians and ministers in the government. So that they’d understand once and for all that our lives are not lives.”

Besides the constant personal danger, she noted the economic damage from rocket attacks. Her business, as well as many others, had stood basically empty all week, even on Friday after a supposed ceasefire had gone into effect.

Sderot has absorbed thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza over almost two decades. Warning sirens give residents only 15 seconds to find shelter each time.

“I’ve tired of living in fear,” said mother of four Inbal Shoshan. “Someone who isn’t raising children in such a crazy area as this knows nothing about this life.”

Israel Hayom on Sunday described Sderot as “a sad and empty city.”

Top IDF officers, such as Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Hertzi Halevi and Gaza Division head Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, thanked residents of the south for “the resilience that they displayed during the days of fighting” when they met with mayors from the region on Thursday.

A couple from another southern town, Ofakim, said, “No one should live under the terror of missiles… We want quiet lives. But despite the situation, we’re a strong nation, we’ll get through this as well.”

What the residents want to know is whether the terror organizations have been dissuaded once and for all from further attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel’s deterrence has been “further strengthened” by the IDF’s actions.

“There is a genuine change here in the equation,” he said after holding security discussions with top defense officials and army heads, “because the terrorist leaders and the last of their followers now know that we can reach them in their hiding places with surgical precision and take action against them.”

Sderot mayor Alon Davidi doesn’t appear to agree with this assessment. He has called numerous times for a broad ground operation into Gaza, most recently after a home in his town was directly hit by a Islamic Jihad rocket during a barrage on Nov. 1.

“Things are only deteriorating and, in the end, we will carry out this operation in the face of a stronger Hamas and a stronger [Islamic] Jihad,” he said, inviting politicians to “set up an emergency government for the residents of the South and address this problem… We must do it now.”