N.Y.-Israel knitting group ‘calms’ embattled Sderot girls, creates new connections.
Special To The Jewish Week
Over a recent Skype video-call, two groups of preteen girls danced to “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber, made funny faces at the camera, and compared knitting projects, one holding up a scarf, the other a headband.
The only difference: one group was on the eighth floor of the JCC in Manhattan, in an air-conditioned room with a sweeping view of the city skyline, the other in a windowless, rocket-proof Community Center in Sderot, a mile or so from the Gaza border in southern Israel.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for firing 10 long-range missiles into southern Israel.
Hamas said Tuesday evening that its armed wing, Izzaddin al-Kassam, fired 10 Grad missiles into Israel in the afternoon. At least 40 rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel on Tuesday.
Hamas also took responsibility for firing several rockets late Monday night that landed in Ashkelon but did not cause any damage or injuries. The Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported that the rockets were targeting a nearby military base. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.
The 12-year-old girl was seated on the couch across from me, clinging to her mother, her posture helpless and afraid. She’s what they really mean when they say the words “Arab-Israeli conflict,” I thought to myself, trying to maintain a professional mien as I nodded authoritatively, jotted down a few notes, and pretended that I wasn’t about to burst into tears.
SDEROT, ISRAEL — When Gabi Baron, an 11-year-old resident of Kibbutz Niram, plays outside, he has a set of instructions from his mother in case of a Kassam rocket attack.
“If I’m in front of a house, go inside, even if it’s a stranger,” recites Gabi. If there’s no house nearby, “go behind a tree.” In the absence of a tree or a car, Gabi knows to “lie on my belly and cover my head,” as he had done less than an hour earlier during a recent attack.
It’s hard enough to offer counseling to Israelis traumatized by rocket blasts in Sderot. But what happens when the counselor is also traumatized?
“We have a duty, so we do it; only afterward do you think about yourself,” says Aharon Polat, a social worker on call to respond to near-daily attacks by Palestinians on the southern Israeli town. He’s witnessed the Kassam blasts from as close as 150 feet, and like his patients, has his routine when sirens sound: “I go down to the floor and hide very good. I don’t want to die.”
Smoke rising from the site of a rocket attack in Sderot, where Bank Hapoalim officials held their annual meeting last week.
Editor & Publisher
n a show of solidarity, the board of directors of Bank Hapoalim held its annual meeting in Sderot last Thursday, while rockets fell around them.
“We are trying to help in any way we can,” explained Ofra Preus, a spokeswoman for the bank. “We want to show that we are a global bank with a soul in Israel.”
Bank Hapoalim, one of Israel’s two largest banks, has more than 250 branches in Israel, including one in Sderot, which the board of directors visited, as well as branches in more than 20 other countries.
The Palestinian rocket attack on the Israeli southern city of Sderot Tuesday evening that wounded at least 17 was the most serious barrage in a long time and may have been designed to unite warring Palestinian factions.
By Tuesday, more than 20 Palestinians had been killed in three days of fighting between Fatah and Hamas forces despite several attempts at a truce.