Since the outbreak of violence on Monday night, seven people have been killed by rocket and anti-tank missile fire on the Israeli side — five Israeli civilians, an Israel Defense Forces soldier and an Indian national.
Over 1,300 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since Monday night, drawing deadly retaliatory IDF strikes in the coastal enclave.
The victims of rocket fire were identified as Ido Avigal, 5, of Sderot; Leah Yom-Tov, 63, of Rishon Lezion; Soumya Santosh, 32, a caregiver from India; Khalil Awwad, 52, and his 16-year-old daughter, Nadeen, from Dahmash, near Lod; and Nela Gurvitch, 52, from Ashkelon.
On Wednesday IDF soldier Omer Tabib, 21, from Elyakim, was killed by an anti-tank missile fired at the jeep he was in on the border with the Gaza Strip. Two other IDF soldiers were injured, along with Gil Timor, the deputy mayor of the Hof Ashkelon region, who was injured as he helped pull the other men from the vehicle.
Killed in a fortified room
The youngest victim on the Israeli side is Ido Avigal, a five-year-old killed on Wednesday night in the southern town of Sderot.
Avigal was critically injured when rocket shrapnel punctured the window of the fortified room he was in, also injuring his mother and seven-year-old sister. He succumbed to his injuries several hours later.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) May 12, 2021
A devoted grandmother
Leah Yom-Tov was killed when a rocket hit her home in the central region city of Rishon Lezion on Tuesday night, during the largest-ever barrage of rocket fire on central Israel. She is survived by her two children, Moshe and Kfir Peleh, and five grandchildren.
הלב נשבר: לאה יום טוב נהרגה אתמול בנפילה בראשל״צ. בת 63 במותה. בניה מספרים שבדיוק כמו בתמונה הזו היא הייתה אישה מיוחדת ומלאת שמחת חיים. יהי זכרה ברוך pic.twitter.com/f2IWKY5ORo
— Hadar Gil-Ad | הדר גיל-עד (@HadarGil) May 12, 2021
The brothers told Hebrew media on Wednesday how they had both rushed to their mother’s home after they were unable to contact her by phone.
Moshe Peleh, told Channel 12 news that shortly before “the most terrible thing of all happened” his mother had spent “quality time” taking care of his daughter, aged 6.
“She brought her home and shortly after that, this happened. The rocket hit really close to her,” he said. Both brothers rushed to her home after the rocket attack when she failed to answer the phone.
“Mom was a woman full of love, giving and helping,” said Peleh, something that she expressed through her work in natural medicine. “It was felt by anyone who came in contact with her, neighbors, grandchildren, or a person in the street.”
“She worked out of great love, not for the money. It was part of her essence, to give and help other people.”
“On Saturday I spoke with her and she said to me ‘I am fulfilling myself.’ She was in a good place,” he said.
‘She wanted to conquer the world’
Khalil and Nadeen Awwad were killed when a rocket landed near their car in Lod, a Jewish-Arab city. Awwad’s wife, who was also in the car, was seriously injured, medics said.
“I know it sounds like a cliché and they always say that the best people are the ones who lose their lives, but Nadine really was a very, very special girl,” her principal, Shirin Natur Hafi, told the Kan public broadcaster.
“She was in 10th grade, studying in the biology-chemistry track. She had dreams of changing the world. She was such a special girl, such a talented girl. She wanted to conquer the world,” Hafi said.
Lod Mayor Yair Revivo early Wednesday said the slain were members of the Arab community.
“Hamas missiles do not differentiate between Jews and Arabs,” Revivo said.
An Indian caregiver
32-year-old Soumya Santosh, an Indian national, was killed when a rocket crashed into the Ashkelon home where the caregiver was sitting with her elderly charge. The other woman, 80, was seriously injured in the strike.
Channel 12 reported that the rocket shelter was at least a minute’s run away from the elderly woman’s home and the pair did not manage to reach it in time. The home did not have a fortified room of its own.
According to the Haaretz daily, Santosh is survived by her husband and nine-year-old daughter.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family & loved ones of Ms. Soumya Santosh, an #Indian Citizen killed in the #HamasTerrorist Rocket Strike. The state of @Israel is coordinating with @indemtel for the transfer of her body to India. May her memory be a blessing.???? pic.twitter.com/mYRjNxgUCz
— Israel in India (@IsraelinIndia) May 12, 2021
No information was immediately released on the second victim of the Ashkelon rocket fire, Nela Gurvitch, 52, whose husband was also injured.
The Nahal Infantry Brigade’s 931st Battalion, Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib, 21, from Elyakim, on Wednesday became the military’s first casualty in the current round of fighting when an anti-tank guided missile was fired at an Israeli military jeep on the Gaza border.
Medics said the three soldiers were hurt by shrapnel and the force of the blast, while a man in his 40s, Gil Timor, the deputy mayor of the Hof Ashkelon region, sustained a moderate injury from a piece of shrapnel as he helped pull the other men from the vehicle.
According to the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry, 53 Palestinians have died since Monday night, including 14 minors and three women, and 320 have been wounded. The IDF said more than half of those killed were members of terror groups involved in the fighting and that some, including several of the children, were killed by errant rockets fired from Gaza that fell short of the border and landed inside the Strip, not by Israeli strikes.