Israeli City of Sderot Is Different Kind of Boom Town These Days

Target of Gaza Rockets Enjoys Real Estate Revival

Missed the Train: Oren Trablesy regrets not buying a place in his hometown of Sderot when he had the chance several years ago. Now prices are shooting up beyond his reach.
nathan jeffay
Missed the Train: Oren Trablesy regrets not buying a place in his hometown of Sderot when he had the chance several years ago. Now prices are shooting up beyond his reach.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published April 22, 2014, issue of April 25, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A few years ago, someone who wanted to move to Sderot for “quiet” would have been dismissed as a lunatic. But Carole Arazi is serious.

She’s selling her home up in Tel Aviv, and is in the process of looking for one in this Israeli town, located less than a mile from Gaza. Yes, we are talking about the city famed for the thousands of rockets that have fallen here, shot from Gaza by Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups.

To many, the name Sderot is synonymous with misery. Its residents are brandished in the media as primary victims of Arab terror. It’s a must-stop on the itinerary of every visiting foreign politician seeking to show his or her solidarity with the Jewish state. Barack Obama, among many others, visited here during his 2008 presidential candidacy. Mitt Romney came in 2011, the year before he challenged Obama. On April 11, Ed Miliband, the British Labor Party’s opposition leader, was the latest to blow into town and voice his support during a five-day visit to Israel.

But today in Sderot, there is a building boom. Property values are rising. And after years of complaining about being disconnected from central Israel, the town is joining the Tel Aviv commuter belt.

“The quality of life possible in Sderot, where I can have a garden with a lemon tree, isn’t possible in Tel Aviv,” said Arazi, 52, who works in management. The sale of her gardenless Tel Aviv home in a tower block, she explained, will more than pay for a five bedroom standalone home in Sderot, where she expects to enjoy “quiet.”

As for the location, last December a railway station opened in Sderot, and trains to Tel Aviv take 58 minutes. Arazi said that it will actually be quicker for her to travel to her Tel Aviv office from Sderot than to undergo her current traffic-clogged journey on two buses within Tel Aviv.

After eight years of ongoing rocket fire, attacks on Sderot became relatively infrequent following the conflict in Gaza in 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, the calm can be broken easily. There was a flare-up that saw rockets fall in or near Sderot in November 2012. And in mid-March of this year, Gaza militants launched 100 rockets, 70 of which reached Israel and one of which landed in Sderot. Residents of Sderot were listening for alarms and running to and from bomb shelters for much of the two-day period.

Such unpredictability has its effects. Shai Blau, a 21-year-old newcomer to the town, left quickly with her husband for Reut in central Israel, where she comes from, when the March outbreak occurred. She had moved to Sderot only reluctantly for two years so that her husband could study in yeshiva here. After the barrage, Blau related, she was left thinking, “I don’t know how people can bring up children in this.” Sderot native Nadia Leviev, 21, said that the flare-up reinforced her desire relocate “because it’s scary and hard here.” And Yaffa Malka, a 50-year-old hairdresser, said that Sderot residents are “like scared rabbits.”

But others view the flare-ups as few and far between, and simply take them in stride. “I have been here for three years, and each time there is an attack my heart sinks, but 10 minutes later I can go to the pub, drink a beer and forget all about it,” said Moran Bar-Nes, a 29-year-old student at Sapir College, which is just outside Sderot.

Three large building sites in Sderot, each of them with dozens of homes under construction, suggest that there are many who share this attitude. And the local municipality clearly believes that more are on their way: Its town plan envisages the number of homes here almost doubling, to 9,000 from 5,000, within 10 to 15 years.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.