Terrified and angry by their government’s inability to protect them from eight straight weeks of Gaza-launched attacks, Israeli residents too close to the border to benefit from the Iron Dome missile shield are demanding an active defense solution to short-range threats.
Since the start of the Israeli operation, mortars and projectiles have killed 10 soldiers and six civilians. The latest Aug. 26 attack killed two men from a nearby kibbutz, volunteer security coordinators who failed to reach shelters in time.
By the Israeli military’s count, more than 1,400 rockets and mortars have landed in the Gaza “envelope,” which includes the town of Sderot and dozens of smaller communities within seven kilometers of the border.
While most have landed in open areas, residents of the envelope are required to seek shelter at the first shrill sounds of warning sirens. At best, they have 15 seconds.
But that applies only to very short-range Qassam rockets produced in Gaza, several of which Iron Dome managed to intercept, sources here said, despite almost no warning time. With mortars, early warning comes tragically late when it comes at all.
Such was the case on Aug. 22 when mortar shrapnel claimed this community’s youngest victim, a 4-year-old boy, before his parents could whisk him to safety.
“Mortars usually come by surprise. We hear the whistle and we don’t know where it will land,” said Yaffa Natan, a resident of nearby Pri Gan.
So far, some 700 families have applied for government-funded relocation to areas beyond mortar range where Iron Dome batteries are better positioned to intercept incoming threats.