10/15/2012 06:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Southern Israel: Rockets, Miracles and the Iron Dome

Southern Israel has been dealing with a rain of rockets recently, as days and nights have been punctuated by a growing number of sirens and rocket explosions.

This past weekend, a Grad rocket fired from northern Gaza struck the backyard of a Netivot home on Friday evening, October 12, a little after 7:30 p.m., sending deep shrapnel pieces into the bedroom walls of a young child, who was thankfully not in his room at the time of the attack. One resident was hospitalized for shock, and two buildings including the home were damaged.


Photo Credit: Daniel Hagbi, Sderot Media Center / Description: Netivot, Israel: Bedroom of young child that was struck by Grad rocket shrapnel in an attack this past weekend on Friday evening, October 12.

It was the third home to be damaged in Netivot by a rocket attack in a little more than a month, with the last Grad rocket scoring a direct hit on a home, empty at the time of the attack and damaging another, on September 9.


Photo Credit: Daniel Hagbi, Sderot Media Center / Description: Direct Grad rocket attack on Netivot home, September 9.

Last week, I had the chance to speak to a Netivot resident about the situation, following a rocket attack on the city that occurred Tuesday night, October 9.

Sitting at her computer in her office where she works as an accountant, Elisheva Ratzon explains that she still experiences great panic every time a rocket strikes her city. "It's a difficult experience, but even more so when my grandchildren come for a visit. Then I get even more nervous. This situation is especially tough for families with young children."

On Tuesday night, three rockets were fired from northern Gaza, one towards the city of Netivot and the others landing near Sderot, a city that has been the target of rocket attacks for nearly 12 years.

Ratzon, who was born and raised in Netivot, explained that the rocket explosions always catch her off guard.

"I was on the computer, reading on the news that a rocket had struck Sderot earlier, when all of the sudden, the rocket siren for Netivot went off," said Ratzon of the October 9 rocket attack.

"It was about 10:30 at night and the rocket struck just as I ran into the shelter in my apartment. There was an extremely loud boom," she said.

The desert city of Netivot is home to over 27,000 residents and is located approximately 14 kilometers (9 miles) away from Gaza. For residents in Netivot, Sderot and the Gaza-border communities, the rocket routine is not a new one.

Over 60 rockets struck Israeli cities and communities last week. On Monday morning, October 8, 55 Qassam and mortar shells were fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The rocket strikes damaged buildings, properties and a kibbutz petting zoo that is usually filled with children, but was empty because of the early morning hour.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the rocket strikes, which followed an Israeli Air Force airstrike on Sunday, October 7 that targeted global jihad terrorists operating in Gaza.
Over 500 rockets have been fired at Israel since the start of 2012. Israel has been targeting terrorist training camps, terror cells and tunnels.

"Life is not easy here," says Daniel, Ratzon's nephew, who is a student at a religious boys' seminary (yeshiva) in Sderot. "If we didn't have the Iron Dome in place to shoot down the Grad rockets targeting larger cities, like Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beer Sheva, the situation would be much, much worse."

"Right now we are living on prayers, miracles and the Iron Dome," he said.


Photo: Daniel Hagbi, Sderot Media Center / Description: Israeli security personnel handle Gaza rocket that hit an open area in Netivot.