Israel Defense Forces began evacuating the remaining residents in the southern frontier city of Sderot on Sunday in advance of an impending ground invasion into Gaza.
Just minutes after the evacuation began, a rocket fired from Gaza struck a home in Sderot, with the flames from the impact destroying the home. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was hurt in the attack.
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As that was taking place, Likud Knesset Member and former Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon was leading a tour of the city for foreign ambassadors, all of whom were forced to race for cover.
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The city is located less than a mile away (one kilometer) from the town of Beit Hanoun, a terrorist hotbed in Gaza, and has been one of the primary targets of near-daily rocket and mortar fire by Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists since the Second Intifada, beginning in 2001.
Sderot residents have a window of just five to seven seconds within which to reach a bomb shelter in order to dodge the deadly rockets.
At the start of the current so-called Hamas “Operation Al Aqsa Flood” – named the “Iron Swords War” by Israel — the city held a population of approximately 25,000 Israelis. Sderot had seen a healthy building boom in the last several years as it seemed the existential danger from terrorists south of the border was waning, with fewer rocket attacks and quieter nights.
That all ended at 6:30 am October 7, 2023 – the morning of Shabbat Simchat Torah – when rocket fire was spewed from Gaza in all directions. The attacks were aimed primarily at Gaza border towns, but the rest of Israel was put on notice as well, with Red Alert rocket warning sirens wailing from central Israel all the way to northeastern and western Negev towns, and cities along Israel’s Mediterranean coast.
Sderot, home to Sapir College, was not spared.
Since that Black Saturday, during which hundreds of local Israeli residents along the border were tortured, slaughtered, their bodies desecrated and others abducted by the Hamas invaders, Israeli residents of the Gaza Envelope were evacuated to safer areas in central Israel.
Last Wednesday Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi called on the government to also evacuate his city’s residents in an organized manner as the city continued to absorb daily barrages of rocket fire. The Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Authority (NEMA) last week likewise announced a program allowing residents of Sderot to relocate to state-supported hotels and guesthouses in central Israel.
It is not clear how many Sderot residents have taken advantage of the offer thus far.