Sderot’s women watchers


Much of the safety of Sderot depends on a bunch of teenage girls who sit around all day watching television.

The Nachal Oz Army base, just 700 meters from the border of Gaza, is home to a surveillance station that oversees 40 square kilometers of the Gaza Strip.

While the base deploys male soldiers to do reconnaissance from the field, a number of female soldiers sit in one of two war rooms on the base, and watch via remote controlled video camera one of 10 quadrants of open fields and Arab villages across the Gaza border, looking for any irregularities. (As I type this, we are driving past an open field where a Kassam fell a half-hour ago) Each is an expert on a certain patch of land and spends four hours at a time scanning the area with a camera controlled by a joystick.

As we visit one of the war rooms, another reporter jokes to me that men simply don’t have the attention span to do such work. A female officer explains that, well, it’s simply safer for the women to be in the war room than in the field.

At night, when conventional video won’t work, the girls, 18 to 20 years old, use heat-sensing cameras to look for insurgents. They catch a couple every day, the officer says.

When they do not pick up an irregularity, people die, such as they did on April 9, when two insurgents were able to get trough the fence and attack a nearby oil tanker. Two Israeli civilians were killed.

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