Home Social Justice Bobcats For Israel presents ‘Code Red’

Bobcats For Israel presents ‘Code Red’

8 min read

On Sunday night in Baker Center, Bobcats for Israel presented Code Red: Noam Bedein and the Bomb Shelter Capital, an informational session on photojournalist Noam Bedein’s experiences living in Sderot, Israel over the past eight years.

Sderot is a small town located in the Southern District of Israel and has been the victim of frequent bombing from its neighboring region of the Gaza Strip since 2001. Over the past decade, over 12,000 rockets bombarding their backyards have plagued the citizens of this city.

“They are the only region in the entire western world having rockets and missiles being fired and threatening civilian populations for the past over a decade,” Bedein said. “And somehow people do not even hear about this rocket reality.”

After discovering that there was no government or press speaking out about this crisis, he developed and became the director of the Sderot Media Center and began documenting and sharing the physical and mental devastation that is caused by the constant rocket fire.

The close range nature of the bombing gives the people of Sderot a very short time to find shelter and protection from the rockets. They have exactly 15 seconds from the time the warning sirens sound to the time of impact.

Bedein has not only captured the stories and experiences of the parents, teachers and children who have been forced to scramble for safety, but has also personally experienced that frantic search.

“Every single morning from seven to eight o’clock in the morning, a barrage of missiles were fired towards Tel Aviv, again the center of Israel,” Bedein said about the daily routine of his past summer in Israel.

This psychological impact is something Bedein experiences every day, but he stresses the fact that children are facing these same conditions and suffering similar mental upsets.

“The teacher was asking the children, ‘Why do you think a snail has a shell,’” Bedein recalled from a therapy trip made to a school. “All the kids spontaneously answered, ‘So they can be protected from the raketa [rocket in Hebrew]’.”

Some of these children know no other life than one involving running for their lives at a moments notice. They are often growing up taking tranquilizers on a regular basis. According to Bedein’s research, approximately 94 percent of the children are enduring some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Bedein shared a video of another personal experience in which he was visiting and filming in a kindergarten when a siren went off. He captured a moment in which the children were running from their recess time into a shelter and counting down the seconds until impact and then singing loudly in order to drown out the sound of the rocket exploding.

Bedein has presented his experiences and this particular footage the United States Congress, the parliaments of Kenya, South Africa, Australia, Norway, Holland and the European Union.

“I picked up my hands in front of me and I told them I do not have enough fingers on my hands to count the amount of times that a rocket has exploded a couple meters next to a kindergarten packed with children,” Bedein said as he explains a particular time in which he was presenting in front of the United Nations’ judges, and one judge in particular fell asleep. “I asked them why is it that we have to wait until a kindergarten or classroom gets hit by a direct hit in order for us in Israel to have international support and sympathy for us to do what is right and protect our own citizens?”

According to Bedein, some of his most powerful and telling photos from his time in Sderot are those of a children’s playground in which you can see a large play structure, shaped like a caterpillar that is actually a bomb shelter.

In the background of this photo, one can also see cranes and construction of homes and shelters, showing that even though the city is facing a troubling time, people continue to live there and even move there.

“I’m amazed to hear from people tell me that they are not leaving their homes now because if they leave their homes now these rockets will be going on to the next town,” Bedein said regarding the responses he gets from citizens who choose to stay in Sderot.

“It is just amazing to realize what this town today is representing.”

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