A wedding celebration in Ashkelon on Sunday night was accompanied by the whine and thud of falling Grad rockets from Gaza, but revelers refused to give in to the terror threat and celebrated with the happy couple.
Over 150 rockets from Gaza have fallen on Israeli territory since Friday, but for the million civilians under fire, life goes on, as normally as possible. Weddings and bar mitzvas are being celebrated, and Israelis, including new transplants to the southern region, are attempting to go about their daily routine while staying close to protected areas.
Mor and Maor Karadi, who celebrated their nuptials Sunday night in the Ashkelon area, told Yedioth Ahronoth that although warning sirens sounded during the wedding, “all the guests arrived to rejoice at our celebration, and decided that nothing could ruin the festivities. Nobody fled.”
According to Globes, 90 to 95 percent of employees came to work in range of Gaza-based rockets, though schools are closed in the area. However, media reports also indicate that business in the region, notably retail sales, has dropped off by about 50 percent since the escalation in the south began, and affected companies have lost millions of shekels.
Even as the Negev region has contended with economic hardship due to rocket fire over the past few years, Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, on the Gaza-Israel border, has attracted new members undaunted by the threat of rockets from Gaza.
Kerem Shalom has perhaps been best known to Israelis as the place from which Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. But, Haaretz reported, the kibbutz embarked on a campaign to change public perception, entreating potential newcomers to take up the “Zionist challenge” and move to the communal settlement. In the past year and a half, the small secular kibbutz’s population has increased to 22 members, and 16 other people are interested in moving there.
Most new members are professionals who can work from any location; new transplants to the communal settlement include a security guard and a muralist.
“People came here because they wanted a change, and also because of Zionism and self-realization,” Ilan Regev, the kibbutz coordinator, told Haaretz. “The kibbutz is in excellent financial shape, and there is potential here. According to our plan, we will have 50 members by 2013.”
Even, the kibbutz hopes, under fire from Gaza.