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Israel's Bedouin Arabs caught in middle as rockets fly in both directions

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'I'm worried about them'

But what his children go through pales in comparison to the barrage against Gaza, where his uncles live, he says. They have no warnings before the Israeli airstrikes.

''Compared to them, we are living it up here,'' he says. ''I'm worried about them. All are humans. There are a lot of innocent civilians on both sides.''

Around the same time he spoke, two Grad missiles struck Beersheba, a city about 10 miles to the south where many Rahat residents work. The hit caused damage but no injuries, Beersheba municipal spokesman Amnon Yosef said.

Rahat's schools have been closed since the Israeli army operation began on Nov. 14 with the assassination of Hamas military wing Ahmed Jaabari, but some businesses have remained open. Grocer Saber al Tory has prepared a safe room in his house against rocket attacks. When the sirens go off, his six children, ranging from two to nine years old, ''go like rabbits into the room. They cry, they are afraid,'' he says.

His wife's uncle lives in Gaza City. "My wife is afraid first for her children, then for her relatives," he explains.

Asked whether he blames Hamas for his children's ordeal, Mr. al Tory responds, ''Israel and Hamas are both no good. They don't want the interests of their peoples.'' But he faulted Israel for, in his view, causing a surge in Hamas attacks by assassinating Jaabari.

Still, he condemned the rocketing of Beersheba. ''There is no difference between Arab and Jew. All are human.''

Mayor Faiz Abu Cahiban believes Israeli leaders ordered the assassination of Jaabari to score popularity ahead of the January parliamentary election, but he is also critical of Hamas. ''If it rules Gaza, it has to control all the groups there,'' he says, implying that Hamas should have reined in the factions responsible for rockets.

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