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Rockets and mortars still slam into Sderot on a regular basis, destroying houses, terrifying victims, disrupting daily life and traumatizing children. Occasionally, they wound and maim. Information about some of the victims and damage of the Qassam rockets may be viewed here. There is nothing new about that. So what is new?

What is new, is that Christian Peace Teams (CPT) visited Sderot, and produced the account below. CPT achieved some fame in Israel when CPT members volunteered to ride on buses in Jerusalem during a terror bombing campaign, to deter violence. However, Christian Peace Team members in Israel are better known for their scathing and one-sided accounts of life in Hebron, which sometimes seem to lapse into anti-Semitic stereotypes, and could in general, show more understanding for the Israeli viewpoint.

Too bad that Christian Peace Teams decided not to establish a permanent presence in Sderot. They could help traumatized residents work through their anger and fear, and they themselves could learn a bit about the Israeli side of the conflict. Above all, the presence of CPT members in Sderot would provide a moral deterrent to the Qassam launchings and mortar fire, and could have been a real contribution to peace. It would also be a demonstration to Israelis and friends of Israel that CPT is really here to make peace, rather than to support one side in the conflict.

If you think this can help, please write to cptheb@palnet.com.

Ami Isseroff

Sderot: Where rockets still fall

Sderot is a pleasant Israeli dormitory town close to the Gaza Strip. It seems almost deserted during the day, but comes to life in the evening. Nobody had heard of Sderot until a couple of years ago. Nowadays it is front-page news, under frequent bombardment by home-made Palestinian Qassam rockets fired from the nearby Gaza Strip.

Some months ago several CPTers independently wondered about the possibility of a permanent CPT presence in Sderot, were we to be invited. We discussed the question in Hebron and by email. Personally I was strongly in favour, not least because I had been in London, England, in the 1940s while German rockets were falling, and I know how it feels. Several team-mates were less certain. So I was happy when Sean (a doubter) and I were chosen to pay a quiet visit to Sderot earlier this week.

We met several victims, notably a 50-year old Israeli whose stomach had been penetrated by shrapnel and had spent two months in a coma. We also met one of his neighbours, a 93-year old woman from England who showed us where a Qassam had damaged her home. She had survived the London Blitz and was undeterred by Palestinian rockets, but anxious for the future of her children and grandchildren.

A first-aid worker told us to expect a wave of rockets in retaliation for an Israeli attack on Gaza the previous day. While we were wandering, a Qassam rocket hit an empty kindergarten building close by. I'm ashamed to confess we were so inured to casual gunfire in Hebron that the thump barely registered, but we hastened to photograph the damage. In the police station we were shown the carcasses of hundreds of Qassam rockets which had hit Sderot.

On the day after we left, seven more Qassam rockets struck Sderot, including four by the kibbutz where we had stayed the night before.

Our conclusion? The Israelis we spoke to were all welcoming and glad to share their anxieties, and their longing for peace. We were both glad to have made the journey, but the violence-reduction techniques we use in Hebron would not be applicable in Sderot. All we could do is to show solidarity with Israeli victims of violence, and this would not justify a continued presence.

Please remember the children growing up in Sderot. And their anxious parents and grandparents. And of course their neighbours on the other side of the Gaza border, whose despair and powerlessness directs those rockets. They all cry out for our prayerful understanding.

For pictures of our visit please see www.cpt.org/gallery

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000408.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

Seconding Lynne T - 'it is not powerlessness and despair that fuels the rocket attacks'.

Yes. The ultimate source is Surah 9 of the Qur'an; just compare it with the Hamas Charter.

Today the Jihad wants Israel. Tomorrow, it wants Spain Greece Sicily Malta Serbia, most of India etc - all those lands that so wickedly freed themselves from the 'perfect' rule of the Muslim despots and slave-masters that had invaded and occupied them. And after that...well, EVERYBODY is supposed to be a slave of allah and if they don't want to be, they have to be killed, 'converted' or subjugated and humiliated.

Sylvia, Wednesday, September 5th

One has to wonder what "violence-reduction techniques" are deployed to effect in Hebron that cannot be applied to Sderot.

It is not powerlessness and despair that fuels the rocket attacks. It is the belief that a hail rockets forced the Jews out of Gaza and will force them out of all lands between the Jordan and the Mediterranean that does it.

Lynne T, Monday, August 27th

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