THE IMPACT OF ROCKET FIRE
(souce: The Sderot Heritage Center
- statistics from 2009)
The Qassam rocket fire has had a terrible impact on the Western Negev region, especially on the city of Sderot. The city's population once numbered 24, 000 people. Today the population has fallen to an estimated 19,000, as over 5,000 residents have left. The following areas listed below have been considerably impacted by Palestinian rocket fire.
The Israeli government has installed a radar system or "red alert alarm" in an attempt to alert Israelis to possible shellings, though it does not sound on cold or rainy days when the radar cannot detect the rocket launches. In addition, the siren system cannot detect the launching of mortar shells. Once the rocket is launched from Gaza and the siren sounds, Sderot residents have 15 seconds to escape to a bomb shelter. In the year 2007 alone, 2000 Qassams were launched from Gaza to Sderot and the western Negev according to an IDF spokesman. Over 3,000 rockets were fired upon Sderot, the western Negev, and southern Israel in 2008, including over 200 rockets during the ceasefire between June-December 2008.
Approximately 3000 patient files have been opened in the Sderot Mental Health Center due to the rocket fire environment. In the year 2007 alone, 1,117 trauma victim files were opened, up significantly from 2006. Anxiety symptoms among children often include sleeping difficulties, nightmares, sweating, development regressions, wetting beds, and fear of the outside. There are only 4 psychologists on call in Sderot. Therefore, many Sderot trauma victims do not receive the proper, if any, psychological therapy and care.
The mental health of Sderot residents has severely deteriorated over the past seven years as each rocket attack results in psychological turmoil. Between 2007 and 2008, more than 1,600 instances of stress were reported. According to a NATAL study (Center for Victims of Terror and War) done in 2008, between 70% to 94% of Sderot children suffer from symptoms of PTSD while 28% of children actually have PTSD. Thirty percent of Sderot adults have been diagnosed with PTSD.
The NATAL study also showed that almost 50% of Sderot residents know someone who has been killed in a Palestinian rocket attack, while 65% personally know someone wounded in an attack. Over 90% of Sderot residents have experienced a Palestinian Qassam explosion at some point-whether it be in a neighborhood, home, school, business or other residential setting.
The state of Israel has ruled that Sderot is not a war-zone area and therefore businesses and buildings damaged by rockets do not receive immediate payments for damages, but retroactive payments only.
Real estate and small businesses have suffered most from the rocket fire. According to Yakov Levy, a Sderot realtor, prices of homes have fallen by 50%. Housing prices were nearly double in 2000 before the rocket fire began. Around 20-30 percent of businesses in Sderot and surrounding areas have shut down since the rocket terror. Sales at stores in general have dropped by nearly 50 percent. During the intense rocket fire of May 2007, 350 small businesses were forced to close down. In January 2008, Hollandia, a major international mattress factory, employing close to 100 local residents in and around Sderot, was on the verge of shutting down the factory in Sderot and relocating elsewhere due to the rocket situation and security risks.
Facing this great need, G-D challenged us at ‘Hands of Mercy’ to move the main thrust of our compassion outreach to the heart of Sde'rot, offering relief to the citizens of this war-torn community.
S'DEROT: A HEROIC CITY
More than 20,000 (!) rockets and mortars have taken their deadly toll since 2001 upon the scenic southern Israeli border communities next to Gaza, as radical Islamic forces have systematically attempted through terror to drive out all the local Israeli residents. Painfully, this traumatized, dwindling, war-front city of S'derot became their prime target due to its vulnerable location just two short kilometers from the border.
The 'Hands of Mercy' team courageously opened the 'Tents of Victory' outreach center in the heart of S'derot during the first days of Operation Cast Lead (2009) in order to begin a vitally needed family crisis-assistance facility.
Moved by compassion, we deeply shared the pain and grief with many residents during their suffering through severe injuries and occasional deaths to precious family members. Economic trauma has also been very devastating to this community of (originally) 24,000 residents, leaving many unemployed as factories closed or moved to safer locations. For many, the inability to provide food for their hungry families forced them into a cycle of severe poverty. When possible, we reached out to alleviate the suffering and sought out wisdom and creative ways to help to offer renewed hope and courage to these precious families who have bravely suffered at the hands of Islamic terror!
(souce: The Sderot Heritage Center
- statistics from 2009)
June 28, 2004: Afik Ohion Zehavi, 4, killed when a Qassam lands in his nursery school in Sderot.
June 28, 2004: Mordechai Yosephus, 49 killed when a rocket lands in a kindergarten in Sderot.
September 29, 2004: Dorit Inso, 2, killed when two rockets slam into her Sderot apartment building.
September 29, 2004: Yuval Abeva, 4, killed when two rockets hit his Sderot apartment building.
January 15, 2005: Ayala Haya Abukasis, 17, killed protecting her brother from rocket shrapnel in a Qassam attack on a residential neighborhood in Sderot.
November 11, 2006: Faian Slutzker, 57 killed when a Qassam strikes a street where she is walking.
November 21, 2006: Yaakov Yaakobovich, 43, killed during work at a Sderot poultry processing plant.
May 21, 2007: Shir-el Friedman, 35, killed in Sderot when a rocket hits a car she is walking near.
May 27, 2007: Oshri Oz, 36, is killed in Sderot when a rocket struck the car he was driving.