Southern Israel residents describe near-death hits, children out of school and non-stop missiles

Residents refuse to abandon their homes, but believe tragedy is a rocket strike away

A man examines the wreckage of a home damaged by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, October 24. (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
A man examines the wreckage of a home damaged by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, October 24. (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

Life in communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip came to a near halt Wednesday as Palestinians fired over 80 rockets into southern Israel. The continuous barrage forced school closures, shut businesses, and kept one million Israelis on edge and in or near to bomb shelters.

Talking about life under the threat of Gazan mortars and rockets, residents of the South on Wednesday described unfortified homes, a government that isn’t protecting them, and a “tragedy waiting to happen” as children congregate during periods of incoming fire.

“Regretfully, we’re not protected. We have houses with asbestos roofs and cardboard ceilings,” Ilan Cohen of the Eshkol Region told Channel 2 TV.

“At 7 a.m., we woke up to two red alerts. One of the alerts was actually very real when a missile scored a direct hit on the house,” he added dryly.

Cohen wasn’t injured in the attack, but a neighbor barely survived a direct hit on the building, according to his description of events.

“The State of Israel needs to wake up and make the right decision and protect us,” he said, and added: “Today was very close.”

Cohen said the area has come to a standstill as the barrage of missiles shows no signs of cessation. “At the moment, all the parents have been called upon. We are one community that has simply stopped working outside, but now works inside… the kids are in an informal education environment at the moment.

“I really hope there isn’t another hit,” he continued, “because another hit with this many children in an unprotected area could be a disaster.”

Some of the children residing in the areas under attack spent time outside today collecting rocket shrapnel strewn about their neighborhoods and fields.

“I sometimes have nightmares when I hear the red alert,” one of the children interviewed by Channel 2 unashamedly said in front of his friends.

Another said that he would never leave his home. “Even if one hits my house — on my house — I’m not leaving.”

“This is my moshav [community],” another said. “A good moshav.”

Zilpa Yoz on Channel 2 Wednesday (screenshot: Channel 2 News)
Zilpa Yoz on Channel 2 Wednesday (screenshot: Channel 2 News)

Zilpa Yoz described waking up to the bombardment, during which her house sustained heavy damage, telling Channel 2, “I heard a red alert, explosions in the area — 7 a.m. I was in bed and didn’t go to the shower. I closed the door to protect myself from the concussion. Within a second, as I closed the doors, I heard a big boom and horrible silence.” A rocket had smashed into her home.

“I understood I had to get out of the house. I left the house through the front door and within minutes… seconds… the guys from the kibbutz and security came. I told them I was alone. The kids weren’t here.

“This has been our situation since 2001,” she said. “The government has decided we are second-class citizens… the feeling here is very grim.”

Still, Yoz said she wouldn’t leave. If Tel Aviv residents were in a similar situation, she remarked, they wouldn’t abandon their homes. People might leave for a while, she opined, but home is home. “We pray. Perhaps the prayers will help this time. I hope that I don’t have to go through this again. It’s impossible.”

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