'We live in fear,' say children of southern Israel

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the rocket-battered southern Israel town of Sderot on Wednesday and heard heartbreaking tales of dealing with merciless attacks from Gaza from those who are too young to have such worries.

During a visit to a fourth-grade class at a local Sderot school, Peres was told of the constant fear under which the children live, and the psychological effects it is having on them.

"We were born as 'code red' children," student Chen Malkiel told Peres, referring to the "Code Red" early warning siren that gives local residents a handful of seconds to reach bomb shelters in the event of a rocket attack.

"We are children who live in fear and anxiety that at any moment we will hear the code red siren, have to leave our games, our friends and enter the safe rooms," continued Malkiel, before taking Peres' hand and leading him on a brief tour of the class's bomb shelter.

Peres responded: "You are brave children who live in an abnormal reality. I know how hard it is not to sleep at night, how hard it is for your mothers and how much you want to lead a normal life. The State of Israel must listen to the children in this region and protect them."

At a press conference following the school meeting, Peres' office quoted him as saying, "The countries of the world that in their self-righteousness transfer funds to Gaza...must see the reality that money in Gaza equals terror."

Four days of incessant rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled seems to come to an end on Tuesday afternoon, and a tense quiet returned to the region.

Israeli officials are uncertain if the unofficial ceasefire will hold, and local residents are angered by the lack of a serious Israeli military response to the besieging of their homes.

Israeli media suggested that the government had failed to launch a serious military response because of an Egyptian threat to sever diplomatic ties if Israel attacked Gaza.

Israeli military officials have been saying for some months now that a full-scale ground invasion of Gaza is necessary to remove the threat posed by terrorist rocket crews.

Meanwhile, four rockets were fired from the Egyptian Sinai into southern Israel on Wednesday. The shells landed in a small farming village near the border.

Cross-border attacks from Egypt are still relatively low-key, but have been increasing since the hijacking of Egypt's pro-democracy revolution by the Muslim Brotherhood.

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