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'I don't have the strength to see homes around me being hit'

Many residents of south are angered by ceasefire, yet optimistic about the quiet

After 11 days of Hamas bombardment, some say it’s a huge relief just being able to safely go outside again

A man walks his dog near the beach in Ashkelon, Israel, Friday, May 21, 2021, after a ceasefire took effect between Hamas and Israel. (AP Photo/Maya Alerruzzo)
A man walks his dog near the beach in Ashkelon, Israel, Friday, May 21, 2021, after a ceasefire took effect between Hamas and Israel. (AP Photo/Maya Alerruzzo)

As a tentative quiet returned to southern Israel following 11 days of rocket fire, some residents Friday slammed the government’s decision to agree to a ceasefire, but others are just happy to be outside again.

“We feel like we’ve gone through it all for nothing,” one man told Channel 12. “We had achievements thanks to the army, but there is no strategy. What kind of ceasefire is this?”

In Ashkelon, the city that was targeted the most by Gaza rockets, with some 1,000 fired at it, a local resident told the same network that he and his family of four kids had gone outside their homes for the first time in 10 days, as they had previously been too scared to leave even to throw out the trash. He expressed hope that normal life can now resume.

Eighteen-year-old Dana Lants, from Ashkelon, told the Times of Israel: “If you would have asked me a few days ago, I would have been really mad that we agreed to a ceasefire. But now, I just don’t have the strength anymore to see homes around me being hit, and another day of staying at home.”

Damage to homes in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon which were hit by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas terrorists, May 12, 2021. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

“I kind of gave up, and I know the military did what it could, so I’m fine with the decision now,” she added.

“The cafe is full. For ten days no one was here. Ashkelon is coming back to life. A lot of people are smiling again,” another resident of the city told the Walla news site.

Since the fragile truce began at 2 a.m on Friday, Israel has seen no rockets fired at it, and there were also no reports of Israeli strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Moshe Gingihishvili, another Ashkelon resident, told Walla: “I have lived in Ashkelon for four decades, and this week has been particularly difficult.”

“Rocket ‘drizzles’ are still feared, but most people have returned to their normal routine,” Gingihishvili said, referring to previous rounds of conflict that were followed by sporadic rocket fire.

Explosions are seen in the sky from Iron Dome interceptions above a woman enters a public bomb shelter, during a rocket barrage fired from the Gaza strip on May 18, 2021, in the southern city of Ashkelon. (Gili Yaari /Flash90)

Some citizens who had left the south during the bombardment returned after the ceasefire was announced late Thursday night.

“Last night, right as the ceasefire started, we went back home. It’s a great feeling. We just hope that the calm will be maintained and we will not have to move out again due to rocket fire,” Oranit, a mother from Ashkelon who left the city with her children, told Walla.

Several politicians and local officials criticized the government over the ceasefire just hours after it went into effect, with some calling the move an “embarrassment.”

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