Qassem Asadi, whose two children died of heatstroke Wednesday after he forgot them in his car, drove to the brothers’ daycare after finishing his day’s work as a teacher in the southern village of Sayyed without realizing that they were dead in the backseat of the car, he said Thursday.
The children, Muhammad and Ahmed, three and four years old, respectively, were buried Thursday at the Galilean village of Deir al-Asad.
“I drove my wife to work.” Asadi told the Ynet news site. “The children were asleep in the backseat. I continued to the school in which I work and forgot them. After the day’s work, I entered the car, not feeling the presence of the kids.”
He described the moments in which the horrifying realization of his children’s death dawned on him.
“I drove [from work] to the daycare where I leave them every day, and when I got there I asked the woman in charge about their whereabouts. She told me, ‘You didn’t come today.’ I thought she was joking. But the kids jump on me every day when I come to pick them up, and this time they did not. I returned to my car immediately and couldn’t believe it when I saw the lifeless bodies of my two children.”
The grieving father implored parents to remember their children when they go for a drive. “A day ago my children were sleeping beside me and laughing by my side. Please, mind your children, do not leave them in your car. There is no worse hardship than what we are going through.”
The parents were broken by the loss of their kids.
“It was very hard for the parents to go to sleep without their two children,” a relative told Ynet. “It was a difficult night for all of us. The mother and father are both still trying to come to terms with what happened. They keep crying, saying that they miss the kids, that they were used to the fun atmosphere they created, that they want to play with them and hear their voices.”
The relative also said that the family was not judging the father for the tragedy.
“At this stage it is hard for us to ask the father how it is that he forgot his children in the car,” he said. “We have to wait until his mood improves and he is able to talk. Our duty is to support him and his wife, to console them and to be at their side at this difficult time. It’s a tragedy for the whole village. This is the first time that the village has had to deal with such an event. Parents should always mind their children so they can continue living calmly and without pain.”
The parents married five years ago and moved to the Negev region in the south of Israel, where they both worked as teachers, relatives said.
As average summer temperatures have climbed in recent years, Israel has seen a spate of similar incidents in which young children are seriously hurt or die after being forgotten in a closed car.
As in recent years, the summer of 2016 has already seen several incidents of parents forgetting their children in locked cars.
The last recorded death occurred in late May in the coastal city of Ashdod, when a father forgot to drop off his one-year-old son at his preschool, unwittingly leaving him in the back of his parked car for three hours. The father returned to the car to discover his lifeless son.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.