Gaza rockets shatter Shabbat, rattle Sderot

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[A guest contributor today. This is an update from Hands of Mercy, “nonprofit Israeli relief organization, serving as an outreach expression of compassion and support to many individuals and families now suffering the tragic results of suicide-terror, violence, and war.”  This report comes just after a rocket strike destroyed a factory in Sderot, a town on the border with Gaza. I saw very little international press on this attack.]

Saturday evening as the Shabbat rest came to an end, the quiet of the early evening was shattered in our small community. The Tzeva Adom alarm sounded to warn us all of the incoming rockets, and seconds later the loud explosion was heard as the rocket made a direct hit on a nearby factory. The flames and black smoke filled the sky. Houses were emptied as people came outside to see the horrific scene… their faces filled with fear.

The following is a first-hand report by a resident of Sderot and member of the Hands of Mercy Team. Yael’s retelling of her experience is the real story behind the terror we live with.

Last night I was sitting with my friends for dinner when the Tzeva Adom, Code Red siren went off. All of us are used to this, it was nothing special. There was the usual skip of a heart beat and the silence that follows as we waited for the bang. This time though, for me, something unusual happened.

Smoke rises in Sderot after a rocket struck a factory on June 28, 2014. (Photo via Hands of Mercy)
Smoke rises in Sderot after a rocket struck a factory on June 28, 2014. (Photo via Hands of Mercy)

I am an Iraq War vet. I know exactly how it feels to have mortars and bullets zipping overhead. I have lived in Israel for 7 years. I was in Beer Sheva when the Pillar of Smoke operation was happening in 2012-2013. I am always prepared for the missiles. What I was not prepared for was the terror on the faces of the three young children who were having their bath.

What the news doesn’t tell us is that this is not a combat zone. Here, we are not soldiers, ready and expecting an enemy attack. Here, we are friends meeting for dinner, children in a bath, pensioners watching the television. These rockets are falling on and next to our homes.

When the Kassam hit the plastics factory [Saturday] night,  the explosion shook the house. The secondary explosions continued for another few hours as the fire crews managed to bring the 500-foot flames under control and stop them from spreading to the residential area we stood in, just across the road.

As we calmed the children down, played games and told jokes, another barrage came over, one of the rockets flying so close to the house that the entire place was lit up a bright yellow from the propellent burning at the tail. This is when I realized the dilemma of every parent in the south of Israel,

WHICH CHILD DO YOU CHOOSE?

My friends have three children under 5. Thankfully, we were there and there were enough adults for us to each grab a child, but what happens when the mother is at home alone? Does she pick the youngest? Should she pick the girl before the boy? In the 10 to 15 seconds it has taken to read this PARAGRAPH, a mother in the south of Israel has had to try and get her children to the shelter. Which child would you choose?

Despite this horrific reality that people here, young and old, face with the bravery of the soldiers I served with in Iraq, life goes on.

The owner of the factory has made sure his staff are taken care of and is giving them the opportunity to rebuild the factory together, so they keep their jobs and salaries while repairs are made!

Here, we continue to pray and offer our spiritual, emotional and physical support to those affected by terror, and their families. May Yah be with you all too.

Thank you for being there and for your continued prayers as we continue to serve and reach out together with Messiah’s love.  If you wish to help us show Yah’s light to the victims of terror and the poverty that follows, please see donation link on our site.

With deep gratitude…. The Hands of Mercy Team