Sderot’s streets are empty, its schools and shops closed. Residents of this southern Israeli town are accustomed to the alarm that sounds almost daily as rockets fired from Gaza land here. But the upsurge in violence in recent days is, for some, the last straw.
Benni Cohen is taking his three children to a family home further north, in Petach Tikva, 20 minutes east of Tel Aviv, and does not intend to come back.
“It’s been ongoing for nine years,” he told IRIN. “This is not going to end. I’m not putting my children through anymore of this. We should have left [years ago].
“Seeing your children grow up under a rain of Qassam missiles is no way to live. We have 15 seconds to find shelter [when the rockets hit]. Impossible.”
Across the border, in northern areas of the Gaza Strip, like in Beit Hanoun, a town hard hit by the border violence, many people have already started leaving their homes, heading for safer ground near Gaza City, according to Lydia de Leeuw, a documentation officer for the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).
But there too, they will not find refuge. Jihad al-Meshrawi, a BBC editor, was at the office when he got word his home in Gaza City had been hit by an Israeli airstrike. When he got home, he found his 11-month-old son and sister-in-law dead, and his brother severely burned.
“I am used to editing footage of people who have had their houses destroyed and bombed, people killed,” he told IRIN. “But I didn’t expect it to happen to me.
“They say they don’t attack civilians but we are civilians. Was my child armed?”
Read more of the story here at the IRIN news service:
ISRAEL-OPT: Border communities prepare for the worst
Category: Middle East