Monday, December 25, 2006


Just imagine if your town came under constant missile attacks every day.

Sderot in southern Israel has been that way for more than fifteen months. That is, since Israel left Gaza by removing every single Jew and every Israeli settlement from this part of Palestinian territory. Israel left Gaza judenrein and ended its occupation over 1.4 million Palestinians. In return, the residents of Sderot have received an average of three "gifts" from their Palestinian neighbours every day.

This is the text of an address given by Noam Bedein at IDC Media Conference in Herzlia, Israel on 19 December 2006.

We are all aware of the reality in the southern part of Israel.

Ben Gurion’s vision in the Negev has been under lethal attack of more than 5,500 missile attacks over the past six years, with more than 1200 in the past fifteen months.

That is an average of three missile attacks a day…28 missile attacks have occurred since the "cease fire".

Yet with such staggering statistics, no public office is relating to the human side of this tragedy.

Children grow up with sirens as a part of their life.

When you hear the siren "Tseva Adom", you understand that you’ve got 15 seconds to take cover.

Yet we have revealed that there are over 8,000 citizens of the Western Negev, have no sheltered room to run to.

When you go into the office of the head of security in Sderot, you see a map of Sderot on the wall. You see dots on the map, with the head of security saying that he stopped putting dots 2 years ago, because you wouldn’t notice the map.

The conclusion: there is no street, neighborhood, community or family, which has not experienced the trauma of a missile exploding near by.

I’ve experienced it myself during a Friday night service in the synagogue.

I shall never forget the sight of the fathers not knowing which child to grab first to protect.

Only 6 psychologists work in Sderot. Half of the kindergartens aren’t protected.

Can any one imagine what’s it like to send a child to an un protected classroom?

Basically, it’s like playing Russian roulette.

Unfortunately, people in Israel, especially in the Israeli media, show an interest only when there is blood, under the principle of "only when it Bleeds it Leads".

The human tragedy, the anxiety, the trauma- that is not being shown, that is not being reported, that remains a secret to the media – especially during what is described by the government as a "ceasefire".

This is where our new information center comes in.

Its purpose is to show the human face, behind the cold media statistics and the "weather report" style of telling about a few missiles falling from the sky and nobody really being injured.

Our goal is to create awareness in Israel and in the world opinion, of what people are going through.

During my first six weeks in Sderot, I met with community workers such as: social workers, the head psychiatrist, the heads of the parents association. the security officers, the teachers, the families of victims, and the different projects that work with the community.

The task at hand was to put all this together, to liaison between reporters and groups that come to Sderot and to show them the human side of it, in an informal way and on a personal level, as a Sderot resident.

We've managed to host several groups, including The American Jewish Congress and AFSI, and most recently escorted American talk show host Gordon Liddy, who broadcast his radio show with 6 million listeners as the guest of our center in Sderot.

And we have been publishing timely investigative pieces in the Jerusalem Post, Israel National News and Israel Insider, while providing news reports for English Radio of Kol Yisrael and Shalom USA in Baltimore.

Our articles about the lack of protection for of the schools in Sderot reached important Jews in London, who confronted the Israeli ambassador in London with the letter that our agency had received from the Prime Minister’s advisor that the government was simply not going to add more protection for the schools.

That process produced a change in policy and a government decision to indeed allocate the necessary funds to protect all of the schools. in SderotPresently, our information center is working on an investigative piece about the Israel Tax Authority and their local representatives known as MAS RECUSH, in which we are investigating how and why people don't get their homes and stores repaired for long periods of time, and how the government tries to wait until people take money out of pockets that they do not have to cover the costs themselves until the Israel Tax Authority finally comes through with help.

Our center looks forward to take part in building a trauma center.

We were pleased to receive an offer from an architect from Tennessee who wants to volunteer his time in the design of the Trauma center, after reading our article about what the children in the Kindergartens go through these days.

Our center looks forward to bringing more volunteers from outside of Sderot.

My sister, who acts as a clown therapist, bringing a bus full of clowns to Sderot.

Our Center looks forward to recruiting help from the "Ayaliem project".

Students at the Sapir College who are now building Yeshuvim in the Negev.

And, most importantly, our center looks forward to being the only physical representative for the foreign press in the Negev, with the ability to function in seven languages.

At this moment, our center is getting ready for the next round of death and destruction.

We are ready to film with our video as the missiles fall, to interview the people who are affected, to place our material on our new web-site, only three weeks old and with more than 2000 people who have scrolled through the web-site.

Our information center runs as a private company, with a small borrowed computer.

Our center needs help to acquire state of the art computer equipment, to get a van to show reporters around, to cover expenses for volunteers and to hire staff.

We will do this by forming a membership support organization, by raising funds through a non profit organization in the US, and by selling shares in our small corporation.

On a personal note, after returning after a 13 months of travel by my self in the Far East, and coming home, it seemed like people had given up, that people had convinced themselves that they do not have the powers to do any thing about their situation.

Yes, it's so easy to just care only about ourselves, our own careers, and our families.

We have to wake up, and to understand that even we, the simple people can make a difference in this reality.

I may be a little "pisher", as my Grandmother called me once.

I know, however, that it is possible to make even the smallest change.

It's not even a question of believing or not.

It's a fact.


Anonymous said...

Ynet reports that last Wednesday seven Qassams were fired from Gaza toward the western Negev marking a record number of rockets that landed in Israel since the agreed upon truce with the Palestinian Authority went into effect last month.

What is the use of making a truce with these scumbags?

Do they ever adhere to any agreements they ever make?


Anonymous said...

Crude Qassams capable of destroying peace process.

With suicide bombings on the wane, cheap Palestinian-made rockets have become the weapon of preference against Israel, writes Rebecca Weisser in the Australain

December 30, 2006

WHILE this week's Qassam rocket attacks have demonstrated how dangerous they can be to Israeli children, the real target is not civilians but a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Last Tuesday, the Islamic Jihad group launched at least seven Qassam rockets at Sderot in southern Israel. About 10pm the last reached its target - Adir Bassad and Matan Cohen, ninth graders aged about 14, who had no time to reach a bomb shelter.
While surgeons battled to save the children's lives and limbs, residents of Sderot felt increasingly abandoned by the Israeli Government, which continues to seek a peace agreement with the Palestinian territories while as many 60 Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel since a so-called ceasefire was agreed to on November 25.

At the end of the week, the children and the peace agreement were still alive, but both have been gravely injured. Adir Bassad regained consciousness for the first time on Thursday, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorised attacks on Palestinian rocket launchers.

Qassams have become the weapon of choice due to the difficulty of organising suicide bombers. From a peak of 44 suicide bombings in 2002 they have fallen to just three in 2006 as Israel becomes increasingly stringent in its border control with the construction of the security wall.

Now they've turned to the Qassam - indigenous-built weapons that don't need to be smuggled into Gaza and can be cheaply constructed in homes and small workshops out of such seemingly innocuous ingredients as sugar, fertiliser and traffic lights.

Qassam rockets are the brainchild of Adnan al-Ghoul - literally Adnan the evil demon who feeds on corpses - the chief Hamas bomb manufacturer until he was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004. He devised the weapon after Yasser Arafat rejected the Camp David peace accords in 2000 and declared war on Israel, launching the second intifada.

Qassams are fuelled by a solid propellant made of potassium nitrate (fertiliser) and sugar, which is melted down to a combustible toffee in domestic kitchens. This fuel is packed into casings, made out of the steel poles used to mount traffic lights. The advantage of the Qassam is that it can be fired at Israel over the security wall, largely without endangering the lives of the terrorists. The disadvantage is that they are unguided but the terrorists have learned by trial and error that if they fire enough of them they will eventually murder Israelis.

Al-Ghoul's first rockets were constructed in Gaza and fired at Israel in 2001. They became increasingly deadly as their range and payload was extended. Al-Ghoul's earliest prototypes had a maximum range of 3km, weighed 5.5 kilos and had a 500-gram explosives payload. The Qassam 3 has a range of 10km, weighs 90kg and has a payload of 10kg. In July 2006, Hamas fired a Qassam that it claims has a range of 15km and hit a high school in central Ashkelon.

Qassam rockets are frequently referred to in the media as home-made, as if they were as wholesome as a tray of home-baked biscuits or simply a bit of fun for the kiddies on cracker night. Arafat before his death claimed Qassams hadn't killed anyone, saying: "They only make noise."

In fact, Qassams are deadly and Adir Bassad is only the latest to be left fighting for his life. Fatima Slutzker, 57, and Yaakov Yaakobov, 43, were killed by Qassams in November. The first fatalities were two Israeli toddlers, Dorit Benisian, 2, and Yuval Abebeh, 4, killed as they were playing outside their grandmother's house in Sderot near the border with Gaza in September 2004. Afik Zahavi, also 4, was killed as his mother was taking him to nursery school. Ella Abukasis, 17, was killed as she shielded her younger brother from a rocket. Dana Galkowicz, 22, was killed as she sat on the verandah of her boyfriend's house. Mordechai Yosepov, 49, was killed as he sat near the nursery his two grandchildren attended. In total, Qassams have killed eight people in Israel and five in Gaza - a Chinese worker, a Thai worker, two Palestinian workers and a Palestinian girl, killed by a rocket that fell short of theborder.

Far from seeing a diminution in the number of rockets being launched, the withdrawal of Israelis from Gaza in August 2005 has seen a dramatic escalation in attacks. Uzi Rubin, an Israeli missile defence expert who recently visited Australia, says there is hardly a traffic signal left standing in Gaza because they have all been converted into Qassam casings. Rubin estimates Hamas has launched more than 2000 Qassams over the past five years, but almost half that total havebeen launched since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Israel is frequently accused of being heavy-handed in its efforts to target Qassam rocket launchers and manufacturers. However, its greatest difficulty is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad deliberately operate within residential areas to maximise civilian casualties, as happened in November in Beit Hanoun, the northernmost town in Gaza and the primary area for launching rockets into Israel, where 19 Palestinians were unintentionally killed when the Israeli Defence Force tried to target rocket launchers.

While the criticism was shrill, particularly from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Israel had already withdrawn from Gaza and would never return if the Palestinians would abandon terrorism and pursue peaceful economic development.

But Israel's policy of restraint goes further than unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and unilateral observation of a ceasefire. Last week, Olmert agreed to ease travel restrictions on Palestinian Authority Arabs, including the removal of more than 20 army checkpoints on key roads in Judea and Samaria, transfer $US100 million ($127million) to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the payment of PA government workers' salaries and increase the number of entry permits for PA Arabs in Israel for work purposes.

Yet while Israel pursues peace with Abbas's Fatah party, Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for the most recent Qassam attacks, says they are being fired in retaliation for raids being conducted by the IDF in the West Bank on Islamic Jihad to prevent more Qassams being manufactured. Without the raids, Qassam rockets could then be fired into the most heavily populated cities in Israel.

Israel has deployed Red Dawn early-warning radar defence systems which give those in southern towns such as Sderot about 20 seconds to seek shelter. In Ashkelon, the system gives residents about a 90-second warning of incoming missiles. Israel is buying an anti-aircraft defence system to counter Qassam rocket attacks and is also engaged in testing a laser rocket defence system that uses laser beams to zap lethal projectiles, from artillery to cruise missiles.

However, the main reason Qassams have not killed more Israelis is because most of them land in open areas in lightly populated southern Israel. All that would change if they could be launched from the West Bank. About 70 per cent of the Israeli population lives along the densely populated coastal strip of central Israel, within firing range of the West Bank.

"This rocket, which was previously looked upon with disdain by many, will serve as the weapon of choice in the coming period of time, as the acts of suicide martyrdom served as the weapon of choice during all the previous years," says an article on Qassams on a Hamas website in a translation by Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre.

Compared with the Israelis' sophisticated weapons, the Qassams are crude but their power to sabotage peace agreements is enormous. So long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad threaten to turn every West Bank home into a potential bomb factory, the IDF has a moral responsibility to Israeli civilians not to pull out and the road to peace will remain blocked.

Anonymous said...

Needless to say, you won't read the above in the Age.