Almost 70 years since the end of the First Arab-Israeli War, conflict along the Gaza border rages on, claiming lives and futures and scarring the landscape. BRAD MARSHALL brings his latest report from Israel.

FOR two days last month no learning was done in the southern Israeli city of Sderot as every campus, school, learning hall and kindergarten was empty for fear of rocket attack.

The city lies just metres from Gaza where the peoples on either side of the border have lived with decades of fear, terrorism and violence.

This region of the Levant perpetually walks the line between horror and unswerving defiance, and between bloodshed and uneasy calm.

During our time on a recent press trip to Israel, tensions between the State of Israel and the militant Islamist Hamas were pushed once again into violent hostilities, as a rapid escalation in the conflict brought the enemies to the brink of renewed war.

Following a botched Israeli mission inside Gaza, Hamas responded with a two-day 400 rocket and mortar fire bombardment of Israel ­— killing a Palestinian man in Ashkelon and injuring dozens.

It was met by fierce Israeli retaliation, with more than 100 airstrikes against targets in Gaza – killing five, including two militants, and injuring 27, including five children.

On November 13 the schools and other institutions on the Israeli side of the border were closed. Not because the Israeli Defence Force was certain they would be attacked, but because of the threat posed to those travelling to and from these places.

When the security alarm sounds in Sderot, its inhabitants have 20 seconds to reach the safety of a bomb shelter.

These shelters are necessarily and mandatorily ubiquitous, situated every few metres, whether they are located in homes, school yards or even doubling as bus stops.

It is estimated to have cost between four and five billion dollars to construct shelters in all the towns within 4km of the Gaza border.

However those travelling by road or rail are wholly and unavoidably exposed to being hit by rocket and mortar fire.

We were greeted at Sderot’s concrete-clad Sapir College by Zohar Avitan, the discerning and philosophical 64-year old manager of the Pre-academic Studies faculty.

“Today is a very sad day for me, to hear that they have closed the kindergartens,” Mr Avitan said.

Originally from Morocco, Mr Avitan moved to Sderot with his family when he was aged one.

He remembers fondly how, until 2000, students from Gaza came to study at Sapir College, and now despairs that those days are gone.

“In those days we believed in peace and a new Middle East,” Mr Avitan recalls.

“Now we are all waiting from some kind of knowledge, some kind of agreement as a way to live here in a peaceful way for both of us.”

After leaving the college we passed a burnt-out bakery, victim to one of the rockets, swarming with officials and journalists but still open for business.

Later, twice during lunch at a nearby restaurant we had to rush to a shelter, joined not just by diners and staff but also members of the Israeli Defence Force and ambulance service.

Minutes after we had moved to what into what was, in theory, a more insecure area directly on the Gaza border, a rocket struck a house alongside the restaurant we had been eating in.

More than 20 people have been killed in Sderot in rocket attacks in recent years . However, post traumatic stress disorder robs many more of a normal life, the city’s mayor Alon Davidi laments. A father of seven, three of Mr Davidi’s children are affected by PTSD.

“To live in Sderot is like you live in 95 per cent paradise and five per cent in hell,” he said.

Mr Davidi added: “We are the people that stand on the frontline against this terror”, asserting that while the situation of civilians in the city is difficult, he is proud to say that the people are staying put.

Mr Avitan also grieves that the young and vulnerable on both sides of the border are denied a life free from fear and violence.

He said: “It is very hard because it is like we are living near a volcano. We don’t know when the missiles are going to be shot, where they are going to fall and it makes you walk around with a kind of unpleasant feeling.

“I am old enough to deal with this, but young kids and some people can’t deal with the problem. Many of kids don’t know a quiet world. They are born into this situation here and in Gaza.”

Over the border in Gaza, observers and officials have warned that the humanitarian crisis is deepening. exacerbated by the actions of Israel and Hamas who govern the territory.

Around two million people are crammed into the 41km by 10 km enclave, making it one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

Blockaded by Israel by land, sea and air and ruled by the iron Islamist fist of Hamas, Gazans are subject to daily power cuts, restricted access to healthcare, inconsistent and poor water and sanitation, and severely restricted freedom of movement.

Over the past three decades Gaza’s economy has imploded and poverty is rife leading to the highest unemployment rate in the world, according to the World Bank.

The future for young Palestinians is marred in a massively overpopulated education system where hundreds of schools, colleges and kindergartens remain unrepaired after the 2014 war.

Palestinian protests are often met with excessive and frequently deadly force and fierce recriminations.

The UN has declared the area is becoming increasingly “unlivable” and the region’s people, in the words of Mr Avitan, “live between hope and despair.”

“We like to live in the past,” Mr Avitan mused, “but no human being has the ability to fix history, we can just create the future.”