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Israeli: 'How would you feel if your children were constantly scared?'

By Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
updated 12:14 PM EST, Fri November 16, 2012
An Israeli woman and children sit inside a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel.
An Israeli woman and children sit inside a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israeli town 9 miles from Gaza has had 20 rockets aimed at it
  • Resident: Gazans don't want peace
  • Rocket attacks occur more often in the morning, men at pizza shop say

Ashkelon, Israel (CNN) -- The rockets come mostly in the morning, the men say, but many of the people of the town of Ashkelon are always afraid.

"We can't go on like this," Mayor Benny Vaknin said. "We have 131,000 people here and 26,000 children. They are constantly under threat."

Rafel Moshe, who was playing backgammon at a pizza place downtown, echoed the mayor's thoughts.

"They don't want peace," said Moshe, speaking of the people in Gaza. "How would you feel if your children were constantly scared?"

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Ashkelon, about 15 kilometers from Gaza, has suffered nearly two dozen rocket attacks since the back-and-forth firing of missiles and rockets between the Israeli military and militants in Gaza began Wednesday.

Fear, celebration in Gaza City

Vaknin said 20 rockets were launched at Ashkelon in the past 24 hours. The city has an air defense system, the Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down incoming rockets.

At Porto Pizza, the backgammon players said the worst attacks were in the morning, but as a CNN crew found, the rockets could come at any time. Just before 1 a.m the air-raid sirens went off and then there was a noise just a few kilometers away that sounded like an impact from a rocket. No injuries were reported.

The city's residents have experience dealing with how to quickly move to air raid shelters and some, like Moshe, have a "Red Alert" app for their smart phones that tracks rocket attacks.

Israeli warplanes could be heard in the sky and, farther in the distance, the sound of shelling. It was unclear if it was outgoing rockets from Gaza or bombs being dropped.

Another group of four jets flew over the city a few hours later as the crew was filing a report.

What's behind the conflict

"We don't want war but there are people all the time shooting at Israel and we are quiet -- we stay quiet -- and the world doesn't see the truth," Moshe said.

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