June 12, 2007
By ERIN DURKIN
Special to the Sun
Five residents of the Israeli city of Sderot, a frequent target of Kassam rockets fired from the nearby Gaza Strip, told Jewish leaders in New York yesterday that the attacks make it difficult to go about their daily routine.
They related their experiences at an event sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Rockets have been fired at Sderot on and off in recent years, and the attacks stepped up last month after several months of relative calm. The chairwoman of the Conference of Presidents, June Walker, said half the city's population had exited due to the threat.
A social worker who specializes in counseling trauma victims, Aharon Polat, said he often treated "children that cry all the time, that don't want to go to school, that can't separate from the parents for even a minute, that can't eat well and can't sleep well."
Mr. Polat said he frequently saw children playing games based on the Kassam attacks. In one such game, one child shouts "color red" — the phrase used to warn residents of an incoming rocket — and the others run and take cover.
"I can't give them hope," Mr. Polat told The New York Sun. "I don't know what will happen tomorrow. We just try to help them cope."
Mor Yehudai, 21, said a rocket destroyed her family's home more than two years ago. "We believed that after we would withdraw from the Gaza Strip, things would get better," she said, referring to the Israeli withdrawal from the territory in 2005. "But apparently it hasn't changed that much."