In Sderot, Nighttime Is Wartime

Two months have passed since the Gaza op, but one family still struggles to return to a normal routine.

During the day the Edry family, residents of Sderot, lead relatively normal lives. The children - Chen, 15, Oron, 12 and Shilat, 8, have gone back to school, and they spend their afternoons playing outside with friends near their home.

At night, however, the atmosphere is one of wartime, just like when the town was being bombarded with 30 Qassams a day and Red Dawn sirens shrieked every few minutes.

Two and a half months have passed since the end of Operation Cast Lead, but the Edry family is struggling to return to a normal routine. The entire family sleeps together in a small protected space. While most days have been quiet, they are still afraid that Hamas has not had its final say, and the next Qassam is only a matter of time.

Their fears proved founded Tuesday, as the area saw its worst onslaught of rockets since before the January operation.

"Our three bedrooms are upstairs. We haven't gone upstairs for six months, certainly not the children," says Ruth Edry, the mother. "I haven't even been up there to clean. The children are still wetting their beds at night, and are afraid of showering alone. I've hardly left the house in four months. Two weeks ago I went out and suddenly discovered they've built a new traffic circle not far from my house. Look what's happened to me, I don't even recognize my own town."

The Edrys have a 150-square-meter home, but the five family members use only the 80 square meters of the ground floor, most of which is protected space. A few months ago a new reinforced protected space was built inside the house, as part of the Construction and Housing Ministry's project for protecting Sderot. This protected space is supposed to increase the family's sense of security, but the family is not willing to sleep in the bedrooms yet.

Oron will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah next month, and the whole family is very excited.

"I am scared to death of the Qassams," says Oron. "When I hear the siren my whole body trembles. I would rather be in my room than in the crowded protected space, but I have no choice. I don't dare go up there."

The Edry family is seeing a psychologist, who is helping the parents cope with their anxieties.

"The psychologists told us to buy a computer for the children and put it upstairs, to encourage them to go back to their rooms. It didn't help at all. They don't go upstairs, no matter how I try to coax them," says Ruth.

Ronen, the father, works as a taxi driver. A year ago, when he was on his way to pick up a passenger, a Qassam exploded nearby, lightly wounding him. He has still not recovered from the shock.

"The protected space is terribly crowded. It is so uncomfortable for five people to be living in one tiny room," says Ruth. "It's impossible."

The Edrys decided to take a family vacation during Pesach, and will be spending Seder night away from Sderot.

"The quiet in Sderot is more frightening than when the Qassams are falling. When it's quiet we are tense all the time. Every noise rattles us. We want our children to sit around the Seder table relaxed and calm. We will spend the holiday in a moshav far away from Sderot. This is the least our children deserve."