|• ISO 259||Śderot|
Public bomb shelter, Sderot
|• Type||City (from 1996)|
|• Mayor||Alon Davidi|
|• Total||4,472 dunams (4.472 km2 or 1.727 sq mi)|
Sderot (Hebrew: שְׂדֵרוֹת, Hebrew pronunciation: [sdeˈʁot], lit. Boulevards) is a western Negev city and former development town in the Southern District of Israel. In 2015 it had a population of 23,090.
Sderot is located less than a mile from Gaza (the closest point is 840 m), and has been an ongoing target of Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip since 2001; rocket attacks on the city have killed 13 Israelis[update], wounded dozens, caused millions of dollars in damage and profoundly disrupted daily life. Studies have found that air raid sirens and explosions have caused severe psychological trauma in some residents. At least 75 percent of children aged 4–18 in Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress, including sleeping disorders and severe anxiety. From mid-June 2007 to mid-February 2008, 771 rockets and 857 mortar bombs were fired at Sderot and the western Negev, an average of three or four each a day. Notable for its many bomb shelters some of which are built in the form of Children's Play areas in school playgrounds, Sderot is infamously referred to as The "Bomb Shelter Capital of the World."
Sderot was founded in 1951 on lands that belonged to the Palestinian Arab village of Najd who were expelled to Gaza, and is located a few miles south of the village's ruins. On 13 May 1948, Najd was occupied by the Negev Brigade as part of Operation Barak, and the villagers were driven out to Gaza. It began as a transit camp called Gabim Dorot for Kurdish and Persian Jewish immigrants, numbering 80 families, as part of a chain of settlements designed to block infiltration from Gaza. Permanent housing was completed, three years later, in 1954. From the mid-1950s Moroccan Jews increasingly settled in the township. In 1956, Sderot was recognized as a local council.
Sderot received a symbolic name, after the numerous avenues and standalone rows of trees planted in the Negev, especially between Beersheba and Gaza, to combat desertification and beautify the arid landscape. Like many other localities in the Negev, Sderot's name has a green motif that symbolizes the motto "making the desert bloom", a central part of Zionist ideology.
|Palestinian rocket attacks
|Regional Council areas hit|
|Settlements hit (evacuated)|
|Defense and response|
In the 1961 census, the percentage of North African immigrants, mostly from Morocco, was 87% in the town; another 11% of the residents were immigrants from Kurdistan. In the 1950s, the city continued to absorb a large number of immigrants from Morocco and Romania. It reached local council status in 1958.
The population declined as families left the city in desperation. The mayor said in 2008[update] that the population had dropped by 10–15%, while aid organizations said the figure was closer to 25%. Many of the families that remained were those who could not afford to move out or are unable to sell their homes.
According to a study carried out at Sapir Academic College in 2007, some 75% of the population was suffering from PTSD in the wake of rocket attacks on the city, and 1,000 residents were receiving psychiatric treatment at the community mental health center.
"Believe me that I feel bad for my children, for the children that live here in Sderot, but I also feel pain for the children that live in the other side of the border in Gaza ... This situation that the children from this place and the other place is because of the behaviour of the leaders of the terror organisations. We can create another quality of life, it is so close."
In October 2013, Alon Davidi was elected as Mayor of Sderot.
According to CBS, in 2010 the city had a population of 21,900. The national makeup of the city was 94% Jewish, 5.5% other non-Arabs, and Arabs less than 1%. There were 10,600 males and 10,500 females. The population growth rate in 2010 was 0.5%.
In 2008, the average wage for a salaried worker in Sderot was NIS 5,261.
Hollandia International, founded in 1981, a company that manufacturers and exports high-end mattresses, moved its sole manufacturing center to Sderot 11 years ago. Following the rocket attacks, Hollandia has been forced to relocate.
The Osem plant in Sderot, opened in 1981, is the region's major employer, with 480 workers. 170 products are manufactured there, including Bamba, Bisli, Mana Hama instant noodle and rice dishes, instant soup powders, shkedei marak, ketchup and sauces.
In 2012, the government approved nearly $59 million worth of economic benefits for Sderot to strengthen the economy, boost employment and subsidize psycho-social programs for the city's residents.
In 2010, after a decline in charitable donations, the municipality revealed that it was on the verge of bankruptcy.
According to CBS, there are 14 schools and 3,578 students in the city. They are spread out as eleven elementary schools and 2,099 elementary school students, and six high schools and 1,479 high school students. 56.5% of 12th grade students were entitled to a matriculation certificate in 2001. Sapir Academic College and the Hesder Yeshiva of Sderot are located in Sderot. All schools in the city and 120 bus stops have been fortified against missile attacks.
An unusually high ratio of singers, instrumentalists, composers and poets have come from Sderot.
Several popular bands have been formed by musicians who practiced in Sderot's bomb shelters as teenagers. As an immigrant town with high unemployment experiencing a dramatic musical success, as bands blend international sounds with the music of their Moroccan immigrant parents, it has been compared to Liverpool in the 1960s. Among the notable bands are Teapacks Knesiyat Hasekhel and Sfatayim. Well-known musicians from Sderot include Shlomo Bar, Kobi Oz, Haïm Ulliel and Smadar Levi. The winner of the Israeli version of "American Idol" 2011 was Hagit Yaso, a local Sderot singer of Ethiopian origin.
In 2007, Jewish-American documentary filmmaker Laura Bialis immigrated to Israel, and decided to settle in Sderot "to find out what it means to live in a never-ending war, and to document the lives and music of musicians under fire". Her film Sderot: Rock in the Red Zone focuses on young musicians living under the daily threat of Qassams.
Politically, the town leans heavily to the right.
The Israeli musician Dror Kessler, who lives in Sderot, has published Intifada Solitaire, a music album recorded during “Operation Protective Edge”, in which he expressed a unique and local opinion, one that may be considered to be leaning to the left.
Sderot cinema is a name given to the gatherings at a hill in Sderot, where the locals gather to watch the bombardment of the Gaza strip while eating popcorn and smoking hookahs and cheer when the bombs strike. The name was coined by a Danish journalist who snapped a photo of it and posted it on Twitter. Similar events happened during the 2009 Operation Cast Lead, after which some critics decided to call Parash Hill into "Hill of Shame".
Sderot residents have complained about the media portrayal. Marc Goldberg noted in the Times of Israel that "it shouldn’t surprise anyone that after suffering a huge amount of shelling over the course of several years, they are cheering the IDF attacking the weapons that have been turned on them."
Rocket fire from Gaza
Sderot lies one kilometer (0.62 miles) from the Gaza Strip and town of Beit Hanoun. Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in October 2000, the city has been under constant rocket fire from Qassam rockets launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Despite the imperfect aim of these homemade projectiles, they have caused deaths and injuries, as well as significant damage to homes and property, psychological distress and emigration from the city. The Israeli government has installed a "Red Color" (צבע אדום) alarm system to warn citizens of impending rocket attacks, although its effectiveness has been questioned. Citizens only have 7–15 seconds to reach shelter after the sounding of the alarm. Thousands of Qassam rockets have been launched since Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005.
In May 2007, a significant increase in shelling from Gaza prompted the temporary evacuation of thousands of residents. By November 23, 2007, 6,311 rockets had fallen on the city. Yediot Ahronoth reported that during the summer of 2007, 3,000 of the city's 22,000 residents (consisting mostly of the city's key upper and middle class residents) left for other areas, out of Qassam rocket range. Russian billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak organised a series of relief programs for residents unable to leave. On December 12, 2007, after more than 20 rockets landed in the Sderot area in a single day, including a direct hit to one of the main avenues, Sderot mayor Eli Moyal announced his resignation, citing the government's failure to halt the rocket attacks. Moyal was persuaded to retract his resignation.
|Name||Age upon death||Date of death||Notes|
|Mordechai Yosepov||49||June 28, 2004|
|Afik Zahavi||4||June 28, 2004|
|Yuval Abebeh||4||September 24, 2004|
|Dorit (Mesarat) Benisian||2||September 24, 2004|
|Ayala-Haya (Ella) Abukasis||17||January 21, 2005||Critically wounded on January 15, 2005|
|Fatima Slutsker||57||November 16, 2006|
|Yaakov Yaakobov||43||November 21, 2006|
|Shirel Friedman||32||May 21, 2007|
|Oshri Oz||36||May 27, 2007|
|Roni Yihye||47||February 27, 2008|
|Shir-El Friedman||35||May 19, 2008|
In January 2008, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York organized a display of 4,200 red balloons outside the United Nations building. Each balloon represented a Qassam rocket that had been fired into Sderot, where for years the town and its surrounding area have been under near-constant bombardment by thousands of rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza. Consul David Saranga, who conceptualized the display, said he used the balloons as an opportunity to call upon the international community to stop ignoring what's happening in Israel. The balloon display made headlines in New York City papers as well as international publications.
In 2011, a Sderot resident filed a million dollar lawsuit against two Canadian organizations raising funds for a Canadian ship to join the Gaza flotilla. According to the lawyers, "The Canadian Boat's raison d'être is to aid and abet the terrorist organization that rules Gaza." The suit alleges that these actions violate Canadian laws that prohibit aid to terror groups.
Sderot is accessible by Highway 34 and Route 232.
A new railway line connecting Sderot with Tel Aviv and Beersheva was inaugurated in December 2013. The new Sderot Railway Station, located on the outskirts of the city, is the first in Israel to be armored against rocket fire.
Twin towns – sister cities
Sderot is twinned with:
- Erez Biton, poet
- Miri Bohadana, model
- Kim Edri, beauty queen, and former Miss Israel
- Kobi Oz, musician
- Amir Peretz, politician former defense minister
- Hagit Yaso, singer
- Youd, artist graphist-painter
- List of Israeli twin towns and sister cities
- Merkhav Mugan
- Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel
- Jewish Agency for Israel
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