From the Sderot Media Center
Weapons smuggling continues into the Gaza Strip
By Sderot Media Center
Over 70 tons of bombmaking supplies have entered Gaza according to Shin Bet head Hamas is continuing to rearm itself two-and-a-half months after Operation Cast Lead, said Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). More than 22 tons of explosives, hundreds of mortar shells, dozens of rockets and anti-tank missiles and 45 tons of raw material to manufacture arms, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip. Diskin added that Egypt is doing its part prevent the smuggling, but that the smuggling under the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip continued unabated.
Hamas is concerned about an escalation in its confrontation with Israel, especially in light of the freeze in talks for a prisoner exchange and the failure so far of its reconciliation talks with Fatah, Diskin said. An additional round of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks was expected to be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Cairo, but nothing was expected to come of it, he said. "The difference between the two sides is great," Diskin said. Diskin, in his last briefing to the current government, said there had been a marked decrease in the number of rocket attacks on the western Negev. "Hamas's military wing is constantly on watch for fear of an escalation, especially in light of the deadlock reached around the prisoner exchange deal and Hamas-Fatah relations." "There is indeed a drop in rockets, only one rocket from a small organization was fired in recent days.
There are two reasons for this: Hamas is not interested in an escalation or another confrontation with Israel, and as a result, Hamas is carrying out arrests before attacks,” said Diskin. Diskin also stated that Hamas was taking measures to stop small organizations from firing rockets and had signed an agreement with Islamic Jihad to prevent rocket fire for the short term. Nevertheless, Diskin warned that the small terrorist organizations were plotting to kidnap soldiers, and were also planning attacks inside Israel - either via Sinai, or with the aid of terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria. Read the full story here.
The EU remains the most significant financial donor to the Palestinian civilians affected by the war. In 2008 alone, the EU provided almost 500 million Euros for the health and welfare services to the Palestinian population in Gaza.Yet on the other side of the Gaza war, EU humanitarian aid workers may not be aware of the devastating toll that the Gaza war has taken on the lives of thousands of Israeli civilians who have endured eight years of daily rocket explosions and siren warnings. Writing from the perspective of an NGO in Sderot where I have worked and lived for the past 2 years, I have witnessed and written about countless homes destroyed, children maimed, and families torn apart by the impact of these lethal attacks.
This is a reality where bomb shelters, which dot the entire city, are used almost daily. Life in Sderot is measured by 15 seconds--the time one has to race to bomb shelter when the siren goes off to warn of impending rockets. A recent study found that more than 80% of Sderot children suffer from PTSD symptoms-post traumatic stress disorder. The long term psychological damage inflicted by the constant rocket fire on both adults and children alike has not yet been fully comprehended or addressed.
Given the mandate of the EU to help civilians in the Gaza war zone rebuild their lives, the time has come for the EU to help fund agencies in Sderot that seek to strengthen the mental heath and social functionality of ordinary Sderot civilians who need psychological aid in order to continue life under rocket terror. Two appropriate services come to mind:
1) THE SDEROT MENTAL HEALTH CENTER Although Sderot has no medical center (residents who are wounded by rockets must be transferred to the Barzeli hospital in Ashkelon located 20 min. away) a Sderot Mental Health Center, under the auspices of Barzeli hospital does exist, and is run by Dr. Adrianna Katz. The Mental Health Center has become a vital service for the Sderot community, providing psychological treatment to those suffering from PTSD and those who enter shock after experiencing a rocket explosion. The center has only four full time workers to help provide mental health services to almost 5,000 people in Sderot who have been diagnosed with severe mental health stress that has resulted from the anxiety of life under rocket attacks. The Sderot Mental Health Center needs immediate financial aid to ad staff and to service such a large community of patients.
2) THE SDEROT COMMUNITY THEATER THERAPY PROGRAM Providing psychological therapy for Sderot high school students by the avenue of the arts and theater, Sderot Community Theater Therapy reaches out to young people in Sderot to help them express their fears and anxieties of life under rocket fire. The high school students creatively produce dramatic presentations, under the guidance of a theater director and psychologist. With the understanding that the EU will address the humanitarian needs of all sides of a war zone, it would be a welcome gesture if the EU would help provide funds to the mental health services of Sderot and the Western Negev. Such financial assistance is vital to the restoration of normal life for future generations of southern Israelis. I look forward to hearing from you. Respectfully, Anav Silverman, Sderot Information CorrespondentI fear that Anav Silverman's words will be falling on deaf ears. For many of us in the US have witnessed these last few years is Europe's embracing of the Palestinian cause and ignoring the suffering that the Palestians are doing to innocent Israeli children.
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Every child deserves a happy and safe childhood!