Sderot Children Send New Year Messages to Gaza – by Anav Silverman

sderot

Sderot, Israel:  Hours before the new year, as hundreds of pro-Palestinian and Arab demonstrators gathered at the Erez Crossing chanting “Katyushas on Ma’alot, Qassams on Sderot,” Israeli demonstrators at another Gaza viewpoint a few meters away gathered together to communicate a very different message.

“A New Decade for Hope and Peace,” was the theme behind the Sderot Rally for Hope, initiated by Sderot Media Center, a social media organization dedicated to bringing the voices of Sderot residents to the attention of the international community. Over 300 supporters, including Israeli youth and international students from France, Australia, South Africa, United States and Canada, were led by the Sderot mayor, David Buskila, and the Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein.

The marchers, carrying Israeli and international flags, along with signs that read “Children for Hope, Not for War,” trekked up a muddy hill to release white balloons with peace messages that children from a local Sderot Elementary School had written to Gaza children a day before.

Edelstein noted that the there has been a year of relative quiet following Operation Cast Lead, “with only 286 rockets fired at Israel.”

Sderot mayor, David Buskila, stated on the hilltop that “we want the leaders of Hamas to know, who  are unfortunately are still continuing to prepare for war, that Sderot residents come today in peace. And we will never leave this part of Israel.”

Earlier in the day, Hamas leader, Ismail Al-Haniyeh spoke to Gaza supporters gathered on both sides of the Erez Crossing via Israeli Arab MK Tal A-Sana’s mobile phone. Haniyeh stated that Palestinians would never stop fighting for a state and that Hamas had become even stronger thanks to international support. On the Gaza side, 100 participants in the Gaza Freedom March, mobilized by Jewish activist, Medea Benjamin, gathered together to show solidarity exclusively with Gazans.

Other anti-Israel rhetoric that came out of the Gaza solidarity demonstrations were directed from Israeli-Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, who stated in front of international press that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “enjoys classical music and killing children in Gaza.”

Back in Sderot, marchers convened together in the only rocket-proof theater in the western Negev, to hear 22-year old Sderot resident, Moshe Amar perform John Lennon’s song, Imagine. Amar also shared his family’s harrowing experience following a direct Qassam explosion on their home two years on December 13, 2007, which destroyed their home. Both US President Barack Obama and US Senator John McCain visited the site of the Amars’ home during their US presidential campaign in 2008.

“Try to imagine that everything you love, the things that are supposed to be the most secure in your life– your home and your family—are directly terrorized,” said Amar to the audience. “For almost a year, we were left homeless. To this day, that Qassam attack still traumatizes my family—we will never be the same.”

The Sderot Rally for Hope also featured a former member of the Zambian Parliament, the Hon. Dr. Saviour Chishimba, who is also the 2011 Presidential candidate for Zambia’s United Progressive People’s Party.

Mr. Chishimba told the Sderot rally supporters that ” There is no single nation in the world that would allow a single rocket to be fired onto her soils and just watch without retaliation. Israel has a right to defend her territorial integrity and the right to exist. Hamas is a terrorist group, which should not be given power to govern anywhere in the world.”

“It is time that Africa stand up with Israel,” Mr. Chishimba concluded.

Anav Silverman works as the International Correspondent for Sderot Media Center, www.SderotMedia.org.il a social media organization based in Sderot, Israel that reports on the human reality in the Sderot region.

  • Chagrined

    Web JPost.com

    Middle East & Israel Breaking News » Opinion » Columnists » Article

    Dec 30, 2009 21:26 | Updated Jan 3, 2010 11:08
    Rattling the Cage: A taboo question for Israelis
    By LARRY DERFNER
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    Talkbacks for this article: 26
    Article's topics: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Operation Cast Lead
    Read talkbacks 1-500

    Palestinian members of the Samouni family are seen in a tent next to the remnants of their house that was destroyed during Israeli's January offensive, in Gaza City.
    Photo: AP
    There's a question we Israelis won't ask ourselves about the Palestinians, especially not about Gaza. The question is taboo. Not only won't anyone ask it out loud, but very, very few people will dare ask it in the privacy of their own minds.

    However, I think it's time we start asking it, privately and in public. If we don't, I think there's going to be Operation Cast Lead II, then Operation Cast Lead III, and each one is going to be worse than the last, and the consequences for Palestinians and Israelis are going to be unimaginable.

    The question we have to ask ourselves is this: If anybody treated us like we're treating the people in Gaza, what would we do?

  • Robert Bernier

    The rules currently favor the terrorists, and have to change
    The rule of law has to change, to adapt to the new realities of suicide terrorists who use human shields and thus place democracies in a difficult situation. Terrorists take advantage of our higher morality, forcing democracies to choose between doing nothing or inevitably killing civilians. The rules currently favor the terrorists, and the rules have to change. Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Kotler, who was Attorney General and Minister of Justice in Canada, former Israeli Supreme Court justices, and Americans as well should attempt to redefine jurisprudence. We should adapt as described at: http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.com/2008/02

  • abrahamstubenhaus

    Thank you Mr. Anav Silverman for bringing this to the light!
    This si a great look at the inside of the war. Most people are against any war. However, it is important that people should do something CONSTRUCTIVE about their feelings, rather than just think about it.
    I wish the whole world would know what Mr. Silverman has written about the peaceful move, right in the middle of chaos, anger and blood.
    Would Mr. Obama ever saqy this publicly?
    Never.

  • cjkcjk

    If anybody treated us like we're treating the people in Gaza, what would we do?………….Obvious answer! If anybody was to hold out a sincere offer of peace to Israel, Israel would respond immediately and whole heartedly!!!
    THE FIGHTING WOULD BE OVER…..That's exactly what would happen.

  • cjkcjk

    A couple observations:
    1, If Medea Benjamin were a Palestinian helping the Jews, her life would be in grave danger and there's no way she would be able to appear anywhere in the Mohammedan world safely without guards.
    2, Why would a Zambian presidential candidate come to Sderot to support Jews in their righteous quest for peace? I'll give 10-1 odds that he's an evangelical Christian.

  • DemocracyFirst

    Derfner is the Jerusalem Post's token ultra pacifist, someone pretty much no one takes seriously.

    As for the tent…If Palestinians had their way all Israeli Jews would not be living in homes or tents. They'd be laying at the bottom of the sea. Which sums up the whole dilemma and explains, directly and indirectly, why a Gazan family is in a tent – just where their Hamas government wants them for political reasons. Were it otherwise, Hamas would use the billion or so in recionstruction dollars it got to provide this family a new home, rather than re-arm for Cast Lead 2.

  • DemocracyFirst

    Derfner is the Jerusalem Post's token ultra pacifist, someone pretty much no one takes seriously.

    As for the tent…If Palestinians had their way all Israeli Jews would not be living in homes or tents. They'd be laying at the bottom of the sea. Which sums up the whole dilemma and explains, directly and indirectly, why a Gazan family is in a tent – just where their Hamas government wants them for political reasons. Were it otherwise, Hamas would use the billion or so in recionstruction dollars it got to provide this family a new home, rather than re-arm for Cast Lead 2.