Kassam rockets at the Sderot Police Department

Gaza Border

Courage and Determination
along Israel's Gaza Border

This website is dedicated to those individuals who live in the Sderot, Israel, area, and are within range of the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza in the past several years.

 

Visit to Ashkelon, March 4, 2008

For several days prior to March 4, 2008, the coastal city of Ashkelon was targeted by Hamas using a new Iranian-produced rocket, called "grad" by the Israelis. The grad is more powerful and has a longer range than the kassam, and put this city of 120,000 within range for the first time. This led to the Israeli invasion of Gaza on March 1.

Ashkelon is among the most beautiful of Israel's cities, with a history going back to the time of the Canaanites, and was referred to in Egyptian texts as early as 1800 BCE.

In the rocket attacks seven people were wounded, and many were treated for shock, mostly the elderly. One rocket fell near the city's marina.

I went to Ashkelon to get some sense of how people were reacting to the attacks, and to do what would be at best a superficial comparison between Ashkelon and Sderot.

Ashkelon, Israel
Sculpture in Ashkelon, Israel

sculpture on Ben Gurion
There are many public sculptures in Ashkelon,
and this was one of my favorites.

mother and son
Immigrants from Ethiopia make up a large part
of Ashkelon's population, along with Russians.

marina restaurant
The restaurants at the Ashkelon Marina suffered for a few days as people stayed away,
but according to staff this day saw the return of many customers.



Ashkelon neighborhood
The neighborhoods I visited in the approximately eight hours I was in Ashkelon were more relaxed than Sderot.
There did not seem to be that sense of uneasiness and imminent attack. But this is a subjective opinion based on a few
conversations and walking several miles through the city .


soldier
Soldier
roller blader
Skater
Above: in Ashkelon there was very little clustering around bomb shelters, such as is sometimes seen in Sderot.
The city has a more youthful feel to it, and more of a sense of prosperity. Many new projects are underway.

Ashkelon landscape
Ashkelon has many open spaces and some of the best urban parks in Israel, but it also has densely-built areas with high-rise
apartment buildings, creating a greater possibility of a rocket actually hitting something.

Ashkelon beachfront
ruins by the sea
The Ashkelon beachfront, which is bordered in the south by many antiquities including extensive Roman ruins,
is scheduled for development as a major tourist area.

shopping mall
Shopping mall

It is difficult to get an accurate impression of a city in one day. But my personal opinion is that Ashkelon,with its strong economy and diverse population, might not be affected as severely as Sderot. This could quickly change if the use of larger missiles is continued, and if the government is as passive as it has been concerning the situation in Sderot.

When I got back to Nir-Am Tuesday evening I read this in the Jerusalem Post:

Two Kassam rockets fired from northern Gaza landed in the Ashkelon area on Tuesday evening.

One of the rockets struck the Ashkelon Beach region while the other hit an open area south of the city.

No one was wounded and no damage was reported.

We will hear more about Ashkelon.