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Sderot shelled

Blair Cunningham, Sderot, Israel
July 11, 2014

Israelis in the town of Sderot next to Gaza have suffered heavy shelling. Many are in favor of military action against Hamas in Gaza - no matter the cost.

Israelis beobachten die Luftangriffe auf Gaza 10.7.2014
Image: Reuters

"This is the Hamas government which is attacking us. I have no feelings for Gazans at the moment. If they wanted to do something and live with peace, they need to change their government."

Kogan Baruch lives in the Israeli city of Sderot, just 1 kilometer (.6 mile) from the border with Gaza. The 56-year-old is one of 24,000 citizens in that town currently living in constant fear of when or where the next missile might hit.

Baruch understands first-hand the effects of the conflict with Gaza's ruling party Hamas: The paint manufacturing business he has run for 30 years went up in flames nearly two weeks ago, when it was struck by two rockets that the Iron Dome failed to intercept.

Although Baruch is familiar with the difficult situation on the Israeli side of the border, he's unsympathetic when it comes to Gaza's growing casualty list.

At last count, the death toll in Gaza stood at nearly 90 - double what it was on Wednesday (09.07.2014), the day before. That figure includes 18 children and two journalists. A further 339 people have been seriously wounded by Israeli airstrikes.

Raketenangriffe von Gaza auf Sderot 10.7.2014
Rockets wreaked havoc on Sderot, which is adjacent to GazaImage: Yefimovich/Getty Images

Destructive rockets

Four more explosions were heard over Jerusalem earlier this evening, sending people running for bomb shelters. Two of the missiles were intercepted and another two landed outside the capital city, without injuring anyone.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) says more than 360 rockets have been fired at Israel over the past three days. Exact figures for Israel airstrikes on Gaza are harder to come by; latest estimates put that number at nearly 800.

While DW was visiting Baruch at his factory in Sderot, two missiles were intercepted almost directly overhead. Baruch's blackened, badly mangled factory had employed 30 people, but none of his staff were hurt because the rockets hit on a weekend.

However, the explosions were so powerful that four workers at the neighboring factory were injured.

Baruch, who has vowed to rebuild his factory and business in Sderot, is in favor of the invasion of Gaza - but he's not sure it will help.

Raketenangriffe von Gaza auf Sderot 10.7.2014
"Code red" sirens in Sderot set people running for shelterImage: Yefimovich/Getty Images

"Every four or five years, our military goes inside and cleans all these terror nets, expels all the ammunition and they are starting to collect again. It never ends," Baruch said. "Even if we kill them all, new ones will come and they'll start over."

'Life has changed'

Closer to downtown Sderot's, cranes can be seen dotting the skyline. According to the city's mayor Alon Davidi, 500 new apartments are being built, and ever more people are choosing to move to Sderot.

"Why? In Sderot we love people, we are a microcosm of religious, nonreligious, young and old," Davidi told DW.

But life in Sderot has been unusually quiet this week. People are staying indoors, school has been canceled, and shops and restaurants are remaining closed.

People in Sderot have been living with uncertainty for more than a decade, said local Noam Bederin - "But this is one of the most tense times," he added.

Dov Dracheman, a 22-year-old student, said finals have been postponed. Due to the tension and rocket strikes, "We are sleep deprived here, it really sucks."

Dracheman added that more rockets are being shot at Israel than during the last major exchange of fire between Gaza and Israel in November 2012. "Life has changed. People hardly go out of their house here now, they're afraid."

Dracheman told DW he does feel for the innocent casualties in Gaza, acknowledging that many aren't associated with Hamas.

Raketenangriffe von Gaza auf Sderot 10.7.2014
Israel's "Iron Dome" air defense system intercepted a number of rockets above SderotImage: Yefimovich/Getty Images

Dismantle and demilitarize

Retired Major General Uzi Dayan, who was a deputy chief of staff for the IDF, believes the only solution is to return to Gaza. And he's willing to accept it could take months, or even a year or two.

He admitted this could be costly, and doesn't expect such an invasion to entirely stamp out terrorism.

Dayan suggested once Hamas is gone, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might like to fill the gap in Gaza - but he also thinks it doesn't matter if the next leader is still Hamas: "If he messes with Israel, he'll pay for it."

Sderot mayor Alon Davidi agrees the IDF should do everything it can to dismantle and destroy Hamas.

"The Israeli army can destroy Hamas, I hope they won't stop until they finish the job. If the army needs to stay in Gaza for a year, they should stay there," Davidi said. "The people of Gaza have a choice to build their future."

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