Monday, September 03, 2007
Back to school has a completely different meaning in the Israeli town of Sderot. It doesn’t just mean new classes and teachers. It means being escorted to school by soldiers and learning how to duck for cover before a rocket slams into school grounds.
Since school opened here on Sunday, about a dozen rockets have hit Sderot. This morning a Qassam rocket narrowly missed a kindergarten and preschool by just a few meters.
We visited the site shortly after the attack. The rocket hit a group of eucalyptus trees next to the school. There was still a slight smoky smell in the air. The school’s fortified walls were colored pretty shades of pastel but there were no children inside. Some of the windows were blown out.
We met Meir Ben Zikri at the site. His son was just outside the school when the rocket hit. The little boy was not harmed, but Ben Zikri says he is now too scared to go back.
“He’s at home shaking like this.” Ben Zikri said hugging himself tightly and rocking back and forth.
Ben Zikri’s house was already hit by Qassam rockets 6 months before. They are now living in a temporary home provided by the government as they wait for the renovations to finish.
“It’s not me, I worry about,” he said, “It’s the kids. I’ll be fine but they are traumatized.”
Ben Zikri kept fidgeting with a blackened chunk of metal. A piece of the Qassam rocket he said he picked up inside the schoolyard. Luckily, none of the students were hit by debris. But Ben Zikri says it was too close a call. So, why not move out of the range of the rockets, we asked him.
“I’m no hero.” He responded, “But if I leave, than this guy leaves and that guy leaves and soon the whole town is gone and the terrorists have won. I’m not doing that.”
As he talked, he would run his fingers over the metal or rub it across his chin thoughtfully. Sometimes, he would catch what he was doing and stop suddenly, balling the metal into his fist angrily. But the whole time he talked to us, he never let go of it once.
-- From Atika Shubert, CNN International Correspondent, in Sderot.
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