By Michele Chabin, Special for USA TODAY
BEERSHEVA, Israel - Israelis in the towns and villages that have been getting struck by hundreds of rockets fired from Palestinians in Gaza said Sunday they are wary of cease-fire talks if they don't end the terror people have been living with for years.
Lior Amar, 24, who works at a Beersheva sunglasses store, has had to run for cover multiple times a day this past week as megaphones blast warnings of incoming missiles. "Seven, 10, even 12 sirens a day," she said.
"We can't leave our homes," she said. "This is the first day the store is open and I doubt I'll get paid for the time it's closed."
Amar said the Palestinians "use every cease-fire to get themselves re-armed" by Iran, Syria and Egypt.
FULL COVERAGE: The Israel-Gaza conflict
"We need to get rid of every terror cell in Gaza," she said. "The people of Gaza also want the terror organizations destroyed. The terrorists sacrifice their own people."
Several news media reports said an Israeli official was in Cairo on Sunday to discuss a cease-fire between Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that controls Gaza and has been spearheading hundreds of rocket attacks against Israel.
Israel hit Hamas targets from the air on Sunday, a continuation of an assault that began Wednesday to take out the group's rocket launchers, batteries and installations. Thousands of Israeli troops were massed along the Gaza border awaiting orders for a ground invasion should the rocket attacks continue.
Oranit Ben-Gira, 25, is against an immediate cease-fire.
"For the past four years we've suffered through rocket fire that's made it impossible to lead normal lives," Ben-Gira said. "We need to do the job in Gaza so we can live in peace."
On Sunday, most of the city's 200,000 residents took shelter in secure rooms, if they had them, or bomb shelters. Hundreds of regular soldiers and reservists waited at Beersheva's Central Bus Station for transport to the Gaza border some 25 miles away.
The mostly young men and women in uniform (women are also drafted in Israel) said they were trying to stay upbeat.
"I need to go and help my country any way I can," said Naftali Kassa, 27, a driver in civilian life. His rumpled uniform, taken out of storage, and gray sneakers identified him as a reservist.
Residents here are exhausted not only by the 3 dozen missiles that have landed since Wednesday but also by the dozens more that have landed here in the past four years.
In 2008, a similar barrage of rockets from Gaza prompted Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli invasion of Gaza that hammered Hamas fighters and destroyed many buildings where militants were hiding or using as offensive positions in battles.
Residents back then spent three weeks in shelters.,
"During Cast Lead, as bad as it was, two or three missiles landed here every day," Amar said.
The rockets stopped, but only for a while. Soon the 1 million people who live in southern Israel were back on a war-footing as the rockets resumed until a massive barrage of about 150 was launched more than a week ago, making daily life a fear-filled experience, they say.
On Sunday a siren suddenly began wailing. Hanita Shariki sought shelter at a public bomb shelter in the Central Bus Station, an underground concrete room that can accommodate more than 100 people.
"I'm thinking of my 3-year-old son, who's at home with my husband, and how he's reacting," Shariki said. "Cast Lead was bad but this time, it feels like we're living through a real war."
But she was not in favor of a cease-fire unless Hamas agreed to stop its terror attacks.
"The army musn't stop until its done the job," she said as she climbed the stairs out of the shelter, the rocket having hit a house in Beersheva.
Yitzak Bazal, 57, had a passenger in his taxi cab this week when the sirens began wailing, he said. He stayed with his taxi as his fare disappeared into the station for safety.
"There are times when I'm driving and there's no safe place to stop," Bazal said. "I continue to drive because my taxi rental costs $40 a day whether I drive it or not.
"I wish we could have a cease-fire but not one that's going to land us back in the shelters in a month or two. "
Sarah Kashin Klein, who has four kids age 7 to 14, said her children have been out of school like others here for three days and are so far "quite calm and resilient."
Originally from Boston, Klein said she suffers from PTSD and that the missile attacks have "and put me in a state of hyper-alertness."
Eager to get away from the missiles, Klein took her family to Jerusalem for the weekend. Twenty-five minutes after they arrived, Jerusalem experienced its first air-raid siren in 21 years.
"I told my cousins it was a siren but they said, 'No, you're just shell-shocked.' They were in a state of disbelief," she said. "I went into action mode."
There are times, Klein said, "when I feel I can't do this anymore but what choice do I have?"
Her son, Dov Klein, 14, said it was fun to be out of school. But, "we have to stay home and can't go bike riding or do other things. I want this to end already."
The Negev desert area, where Beersheva is located, is home to nearly 200,000 Bedouin Arabs who live in towns, cities and encampments. Some said they don't like the rocket attacks from Gaza but their sympathies lie with the Palestinians.
"I wish the army would stop shelling Gaza," said Aisha al Hawasha, 21, a Bedouin student from a village near Dimona.
Dressed in a traditional Muslim head scarf and robe, al Hawasha acknowledged that "it's difficult to live with the rocket fire" from Gaza, but also that it is "difficult to see what is happening to our brothers in Gaza."