On the Israel-Gaza Border, the Line Between War and Peace Has Blurred

On the Israel-Gaza Border, the Line Between War and Peace Has Blurred
Smoke rises from an explosion after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, May 5, 2019 (AP photo by Hatem Moussa).

SDEROT, Israel—For the Ozeri family, as for many others in Sderot, a small Israeli town just half a mile from the Gaza Strip, the children’s bedrooms double as bomb shelters. That’s where Adina Ozeri, her husband and their five children all slept the weekend of May 4.

Throughout that weekend, “Code Red” public address alerts pierced the air, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza fired over 600 rockets into Israel in a span of two days. Four Israeli civilians were killed and dozens wounded in this latest round of violence, including one man who left his bomb shelter for a cigarette break just as a rocket landed in his yard. Another was driving on the highway when his car was hit by an anti-tank missile fired by Islamic Jihad. In response, Israel carried out air strikes throughout the Gaza strip, targeting Hamas posts and weapons storage centers, and assassinating a senior Hamas commander. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, 22 Palestinians were killed that weekend, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants as well as at least nine civilians.

Ozeri, 34, is originally from Jerusalem. She and her husband have lived in Sderot since 2003, around the same time rockets began raining down from Gaza, which Israel still occupied at the time. Two years after they arrived, in 2005, Israel withdrew its military forces and evacuated all Israeli residents, some by force, from the Gaza Strip. “We left with the hope that there would finally be peace and quiet,” says Ozeri, referring to Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the coastal enclave.

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