The Arab town of Rahat, population 45,000, is about 24 miles from Gaza and is situated on the outer perimeter reachable by the long-range rockets that Hamas has unleashed for the first time.
Few homes here have a safety room, and there are no public shelters
"This is clear discrimination," said Hassan el-Rafia, an Arab regional official, who says the lack of defenses is typical of the way Israel treats its Arab citizens. Arabs comprise about 20 percent of Israel’s population of 7 million people.
The Israeli army said it has launched a public information campaign in Arabic-speaking towns like Rahat with the help of Bedouin army veterans and through Arabic language broadcast and print media. They are encouraging people to keep their radios to a special silent frequency that turns on only to broadcast air-raid alerts.
Militants from the Hamas movement that rules Gaza have fired dozens of rockets daily at Israeli towns and settlements since a six-month cease-fire expired last month. Israel launched a massive air campaign Dec. 27 and a ground invasion Saturday night meant to silence the rockets.