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Ashkelon: A City Under Siege, A People Under Stress

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Ashkelon: A City Under Siege, A People Under Stress

In the faintly-lit cityscape of Ashkelon, a chilling calm has replaced its once vibrant hustle. The city, located just a few kilometers from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, has become a desolate ghost town as rockets rain down from Gaza, instilling fear and anxiety among its residents.

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When Home Turns into a Battlefield

The sound of rockets has become a grim metronome, dictating the rhythm of life in Ashkelon. Over 1,000 rockets have been fired at the city in recent weeks, causing extensive damage. Once bustling streets now bear the scars of destruction, with houses in ruins and cars turned into debris. In the city's oldest neighborhoods, home to 40,000 residents, the absence of shelters leaves the elderly and families with small children vulnerable to rocket attacks. The city stands as a testament to the bitter conflict, echoing the cries of its abandoned homes.

Despite being one of the most bombed cities in Israel, Ashkelon is not among the communities recognized as affected by the fighting. Thus, it is not entitled to compensation from the government, leaving its residents to grapple with their losses alone.

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The Invisible Scars of War

The palpable fear in Ashkelon isn't just caused by the physical destruction. It also stems from the invisible scars etched deep into the psyche of its residents. Many live in a state of constant dread, always on edge, anticipating when the next rocket will strike. This relentless stress has severe repercussions on their mental health. Sima, a widow in her 70s, recounts how the fear caused her to forget essential medication and important items when evacuating to safer areas.

A Bleak Economic Landscape

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The rocket attacks have also delivered a crippling blow to Ashkelon's economy. Shops that once thrived now shut their doors in the afternoon, testament to a city that has been brought to its knees. The few business owners who have managed to keep their establishments open are facing an uphill battle. Eli Gutman, the owner of a restaurant near the beach, has seen a significant decline in customers and struggles to keep his business afloat in a city that now resembles a ghost town more than a bustling metropolis.

Mayor Tomer Glam has called for more government support to aid the city's recovery. He has proposed a resilience center to support victims of anxiety, help for businesses affected by the conflict, and measures to protect old neighborhoods. His proposed initiatives, if implemented, could breathe life back into the city and offer a glimmer of hope to its beleaguered residents.

The plight of Ashkelon underscores the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. The rocket attacks have caused fear, destruction, and economic hardship for the city's residents, who continue to live under the constant threat of violence. The government's response and support for the city will have a significant impact on its recovery and the well-being of its residents. For now, the city waits, caught in the crossfire of a conflict larger than itself, hoping for respite.

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