Sderot works to evacuate remaining residents ahead of Gaza ground operation

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Ayelet Shmuel, near a home hit last week by a Hamas rocket, in Sderot on October 15, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Ayelet Shmuel, near a home hit last week by a Hamas rocket, in Sderot on October 15, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Sderot Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi tells The Times of Israel that the city has suffered 75 direct rocket hits since Hamas initially attacked Israel, kicking off a war that is now in its ninth day.

Sderot is in the process of being the first Israeli city to face government-supported evacuation.

Kalimi estimates that about two-thirds of the city’s 30,000 citizens have already evacuated, and the majority of the remaining citizens will clear out today.

He expects about 10% will remain in the city, either from choice or from hardship.

The government, bolstered by private donations, is funding hotels to shelter Sderot evacuees in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat.

Ayelet Shmuel, who lives in nearby Ashkelon but works with traumatized citizens in Sderot, says that for ideological reasons, she and her family are not evacuating to relatively safer areas of the country.

Southern Ashkelon is also included in the government’s wider evacuation plan.

“There are a lot of people who feel like me, who say you’re not going to get me out of my home, enough is enough,” Shmuel says, walking by a bullet-riddled van in Sderot, a testament to Hamas’s murderous October 7 rampage throughout the city and communities in southern Israel.

“And plus, where are we going to go? I’m going to go to Tel Aviv? They’re going to go there as well,” she says, of the terror group.

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