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Sderot residents embark on U.S. tour

FIve Sderot residents embarked on a U.S. tour to raise awareness of their plight. At an event Monday at the headquarters of the Orthodox Union in New York City, three residents of the embattled southern Israeli town described how constant rocket fire had affected their quality of life. They also addressed the Israeli government’s response to the crisis. Michal Kakoon, a 35 year old teacher, said her children “are like prisoners in their home” because she forbids them from going to the nearby playground and even the community center.”We only have 15 seconds when the alarm goes off [to get to shelter],” she said. Children in Sderot “have no childhood.”Stav Cohen, 21, whose house was struck by a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza, began crying while explaining how terrible daily life has been recently in the town.”I believed disengagement would bring peace,” said Aharon Polat, a social worker who was relocated from his Gaza home during the 2005 disengagement to a kibbutz outside of Sderot. He said Israel gave the Palestinians “everything, including our own houses.”The tour, sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, will include meetings with U.S. politicians, White House officials, and members of the media. A second delegation of Sderot residents, sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, will travel to Jewish communities across the country.