Chabad in Action as Grad Rockets Slams into Gedera

Chabad in Action as Grad Rockets Slams into Gedera

by Zalman Nelson - Gedera, Israel

January 6, 2009

( A three-month-old girl was injured by shattered glass and several people were treated for shock Tuesday morning when a grad rocket struck the city of Gedera. Miraculously falling in between two homes full of people, it represents the longest-range attack to strike southern Israel in the Gaza war.

“It was a miracle – no one was on the street and it didn’t directly hit the house,” said Chabad of Gedera director Rabbi Binyomin Karniel  “From warning siren to the loud boom, it all happened very fast and shocked people.”

The rocket was packed with ball bearings and pounded walls, blew out windows and tore to pieces a dog walking on the street.

Director of programming, Rabbi Yoel Baitch, has been on the scene for most of the day with the family next to where the baby was injured, on the other side of the rocket’s path.

“They were in total shock. But they didn’t want to leave their home and give in to terrorists. I offered to help the father clean up the mess, but he said my presence was helping them persevere.”

Rabbi Baitch delivered ready made food and provided constant support to the family with which he had recently celebrated Chanukah in his home and six months earlier tutored their son for his bar mitzvah.

Rabbi Karniel told that the rocket landed a few minutes’ walk from his daughter’s home and that his kids at home are still fearful from this morning’s explosion. Despite the Gedera Chabad center being in the city’s southern most point, closest to Gaza’s rockets, Rabbi Karniel looks to faith and trust for security.

“You don’t need to be a statistician to see how disproportionate it is to have over 10,000 rockets fall in the region with so few casualties and direct hits. Call it what it is, these are miracles and we need to be grateful all the time.”

On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that sixty percent of the missiles have fallen in open areas while 40 percent exploded in built-up areas. However, only 10 percent partially struck buildings while two percent slammed directly into buildings.

Dozens of eyewitnesses have reported that rockets landed several feet from where they were standing or from where they had been several minutes before the time of impact.

A city of 18,000 located between Rehovot to the north, Ashdod to the west, Gedera has embraced Chabad’s activities which include two thriving synagogues, several well attended weekly classes, a preschool for children, extensive programming for the city’s many elderly housing units and holiday events for the 5000 children in the local school district. For Chanukah, three large menorahs lit up the city and were featured in several grand lighting events.

“It’s a diverse community that’s very close, very tight knit, where everyone thinks about having a positive impact on their neighbors and others,” said Rabbi Karniel.

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