David Bouskila, mayor of the Israeli town of Sderot, is no stranger to what has become the routine of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
“For 12 years, we’ve been living with the threat of rockets. This has to stop,” he said on Sunday, a sense of urgency in his voice.
Since Saturday, Palestinian militants fired at least 82 rockets into Israeli communities and towns near the border with Gaza, as the latest flare-up on the tense border unfolded.
Late on Sunday another rocket slammed into the town.
It caused “major damage” to one home, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
But as difficult as the rocket fire makes things, and for all the sirens that sound to warn Sderot’s 20,000 residents of incoming missiles, many living here continue life almost as normal.
Most of the town’s schools remained open, and the majority of its shops as well, although the streets were a little quieter than usual on Sunday.
“Rocket fire is the norm in Sderot, I’m not going to close for each new round of violence between Gaza and Israel,” 32-year-old Yossi Peretz, a cafe owner in the centre of town, told AFP.
“I’m used to the fire, but this morning when I had to lie on top of my seven-year-old daughter to protect her during an alert, I felt fear and I can’t take a little girl trembling on her way to school,” he added.
Since January 2012, Palestinian militants have fired around 725 rockets from Gaza into Israel, according to the military.
The missiles cause relatively few casualties, but leave more than a million Israelis in the line of fire, with the permanent weight of the next round of violence on their shoulders.
Each siren that sounds gives residents just 15 seconds to find a way to the nearest shelter. For some, it isn’t enough time, and they are left to shelter where they can.
Kineret Matok, 24, was having her hair done by Karin Radetsky in a salon on Sunday, ahead of her wedding later the same day in a party hall just outside Sderot.
In the midst of the preparations a siren sounded, forcing her to run from the salon to the nearest bomb shelter.
“Bibi, what are you doing? Why does a young woman have to run to the shelters on her wedding day?” Radetsky asked, using Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname.
For her part, Matok worried about whether the latest escalation would affect her big day.
“I hope it will calm down and that the 500 people invited will be able to make it, but above all that we won’t be forced to delay the party,” she said.
Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch was in Sderot on Sunday “to express… support but also to send a clear message to terrorists: They will pay a heavy price!”
“It’s time to do everything to put an end to this unacceptable situation, where a million civilians are held hostage by Hamas terrorists,” he said.
His comments, while forceful, did little to encourage Bouskila, the mayor.
“These comments are not enough, we need actions. It’s shameful for the state of Israel that the lives of its citizens are dictated by terrorists,” he said.
Source: FRANCE 24