From the Sderot Media Center:
By Anav Silverman
At Madaim Alon Elementary School, principal Leora Fima stands before her students, marking the beginning of Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen service held at the school on Tuesday morning.
The 160 students, from first grade to sixth grade, sit quietly in the school hall-- one of the last areas of the school that remains unprotected by rocket attacks.
When Principal Fima tells the students that the siren will go off at any moment in remembrance of Israel’s fallen, a first grader in the crowd asks if she means the Tzeva Adom, or Color Red siren warning of impending rockets. “No, a different siren,” responds Principal Fima.
“The students were badly affected by the impact of the Gaza war,” Principal Fima later tells Sderot Media Center. “It was very difficult to get the students back on track in terms of studying. It was impossible to get them to concentrate and their motivation was completely gone.”
During the Gaza war, many schools in southern Israel including Sderot remained closed.
However, through outside financial contributions, Madaim Alon was able to establish an intensive psychological therapy program for the students. “Once a week, each child in our school undergoes an hour of psychological therapy,” says Fima. “This has helped the students tremendously. Since Passover vacation there has been a significant change in their behavior. The kids are noticeably more relaxed.”
Madim Alon Elementary School is the only school in the western Negev which offers such counseling for students-- many of whom suffer from PTSD symptoms that result from sirens and rocket attacks.
“The kids here understand, perhaps better than anyone else, the meaning behind Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars,” says Fima.
” One student even told me earlier in the week that from war, can we can strive for peace. The kids know that these young soldiers gave up their lives for us to live here today.”
Indeed, the hall was completely quiet as a Madaim Alon student read off the names of Sderot’s fallen soldiers during the ceremony. When the names of the Sderot residents killed by rocket attacks were called out loud, the silence among the children was almost deafening.
“These kids have had to sacrifice so much already at such a young age. And yet they are not consumed by hatred or anger,” said Fima.
Last week Madaim Alon held a Peace Day for its students in light of Operation Cast Lead. The elementary school students organized sessions exploring how the recent Gaza war affected everyone including Palestinian children, Fima explained.
“There is a time for building bridges,” she says.
By Anav SilvermanColor Red Siren Sounds in Sderot on Israel's Remembrance Day for Fallen of Israel's Wars
While those living outside of Sderot may be under the impression that the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is going well, Sderot and western Negev residents continued to experience rocket fire during the recent Passover holiday and Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers earlier this week.
On Tuesday afternoon, April 28, the Tzeva Adom or Color Red siren blared throughout Sderot, sending residents racing to shelters.
On Wednesday April 16, a Qassam rocket slammed into the western Negev, with another rocket following 24 hours later. The second rocket was fired hours after the Israel Air Force struck a booby-trapped building in central Gaza.
Both rockets landed in the Eshkol region of the western Negev, in an open an area, causing no reported injuries or damages.
Since the ceasefire began on January 19, over 180 rockets including five grad rockets supplied by Iran, were fired at southern Israel according to the IDF spokesperson's office. There has been a marked decrease in the number of rockets fired at Israeli civilians since Operation Cast Lead. According to the IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Hamas has been deterred from firing Qassam rockets into Israel since the operation.
"It is not coincidental that there is no [Kassam] rocket fire from Gaza, but we know that terrorism or attacks along the border fence, by sea or from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula, are still on the agenda and we are therefore preparing with all the necessary measures," Ashkenazi stated on Monday, April 16, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.
Other terrorist activities have continued in Gaza. On Thursday April 13, Egyptian officials arrested nine Sinai Beduin near the Gaza border on the suspicion of smuggling weapons, merchandise and money to Hamas. Two of the suspects were caught at the Rafah border crossing in possession of more than $90,000.
Egyptian police had discovered the day before 900 kilograms of TNT hidden in 18 sacks near the Gaza border. Egyptian authorities also arrested three Palestinians on suspicion of infiltrating into the country.
On April 13, the Israeli Navy spotted an unmanned Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The boat was loaded with hundred of kilograms of explosives and remotely detonated as it approached an Israeli Navy ship, which distanced itself away from it. The fishing boat exploded seconds later, injuring no one.
In the past, Palestinian have tried to detonate explosives-laden ships next to Israel Navy vessels.
According to the Jerusalem Post, four Israeli sailors were wounded in 2002 when Palestinian detonated a fishing boat next to a navy patrol off northern Gaza.
In October 2000, a small ship exploded next to the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 American sailors.
Also last week, Egyptian authorities cracked a Hezbollah-run terrorist ring based in Egypt. Thanks to intelligence information provided by Israel's Mossad and other foreign intelligence services including the CIA, the crackdown led Egyptian authorities to arrest dozens of suspects on Thursday April 16.
According to Ha'aretz, the head of the ring was Lebanese citizen Sami Shihab who was in touch with a special branch of Hezbollah for some time. Egyptian security sources said that the Hezbollah agents had planned a series of terrorist attacks against tourist sites in Sinai where western and Israeli tourists frequent. Egptian sources also noted that the Suez Canal was a target of the ring.
Egypt had been hunting for 13 members of the 49 member Hezbollah ring which included Lebanese and Sudanese citizens for some time. The men had taken shelter in the central Sinal town of al-Nakhl and authorities had feared that the men might escape north into Gaza located 120 miles away through secret tunnels or head further south.
A senior Egyptian source told Haaretz that "Egypt will take active measures against anyone who threatens its national security. We will not allow anyone to do this: Hezbollah, Iran or others. They sought to strike at the national security of Egypt, but luckily we stopped them and uncovered their plot."
The world does not care that over a million people live under the daily threat of rocket attacks from an entity that has sworn to kill each and every one of them. Instead it applauds and rewards the purveyors of the terror with massive amounts of financing in the guise of aid. The Obama administration alone has pledged to give $1.1 billion to help Gaza. US taxpayer funds that will go straight into the hands of Hamas. Obama is even orchestrating the means to put it directly into Hamas' hands. Funds that will not go to the people of Gaza, but to purchase the weapons of terror.
If you feel that funding terror is against the principles that this nation was founded on, then write Congress and let them know that. Let them know that you stand tall with the people of Sderot. That you do not want your tax dollars given to a known terrorist group. That $1.1 billion could be spent better here at home. Just don't be silent!
And like always, I ask you to donate to the Sderot Media Center. Just click on the logo at the top or bottom of this post.
It is time that the sirens fall silent over Sderot!