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Geography of Israel: Sderot

The town of Sderot was founded in 1951 next to the Gevim-Dorot transit camp. Most of the original residents were Kurdish and Persian refugees who lived in tents and shacks for four years before permanent structures were built in 1954. Sderot became the westernmost of the development towns in the northern Negev. In 1961, 87% of the residents in Sderot were from Morocco while another 11% of the residents were immigrants from Kurdistan. In the 1950s, the city continued to absorb a large number of immigrants from Morocco and Romania and was declared a local council in 1958.

Sderot again absorbed a large immigrant population during the Aliyah from the Soviet Union in the 1990s, and its population doubled during these ten years. In 1996 Sderot was officially declared a city.

From 2001 through the start of 2009, Israel's western Negev has come under continuous rocket fire from Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. From 2004 through 2009, many of these rockets have been aimed at Sderot and have killed many including one two-year old and two four-year olds when rockets were fired at kindergartens and apartment buildings in the city. Hundreds more have been wounded over the past eight years from Gaza attacks.

Residents of Sderot suffer from daily sirens and rocket blasts. They live their lives in bomb shelters and students are often forced to go to school underground. During Israel's operation in Gaza from December 2008 through January 2009, schools have been closed because Hamas has aimed its rockets at kindergartens, high schools and other civilian buildings. Even during the five month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, dozens of rockets continued to be fired into Sderot and other western Negev cities.

Other Israelis have extended their kindness and generosity to Sderot residents, but nothing can help the incessant rocket attacks, the pain and shock of citizens and the destruction of their homes.

Upon his visit to Sderot, President-elect Barack Obama claimed that he would not allow citizens in his own country to live like the residents of Sderot live.

Sources: The Embassy of Israel