'I lay on top of my daughters, and all the glass exploded'

Residents of Ashdod building hit by Gaza rocket try to pick up the pieces

Public broadcaster meets with those whose homes and possessions were destroyed when a projectile slammed into building on Jewish festival of Shavuot

Malka Stilerman (L) in her home hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashdod, on May 18, 2021 (Avi Roccah/Flash90)
Malka Stilerman (L) in her home hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashdod, on May 18, 2021 (Avi Roccah/Flash90)

The ceasefire held steady on Saturday, allowing many in Israel to get back to their normal lives.

But for others, everything has totally changed since Hamas fired some 4,300 rockets at Israel, killing 12 and wounding hundreds.

And with multiple buildings suffering hits during the barrages, dozens of families have been left homeless with their possessions destroyed.

On Monday, the Jewish festival of Shavuot, a rocket slammed into a residential building in the coastal city of Ashdod, severely damaging it.

Rescue services are seen at a building in the southern port city of Ashdod that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, May 17, 2021 (Flash90)

The Kan public broadcaster went to meet with the residents of the building, with 14 families now staying at a hotel because they cannot return home.

Malka and Michael Stilerman have no protected area in their home and the public bomb shelter is too far to reach in time.

Michael is in a wheelchair — every time there is a siren, the two of them just sit by the door and wait.

The rocket that hit on Monday totally destroyed their home. Michael was lightly wounded and remains in hospital.

Malka Stilerman in her home after a rocket hit from the Gaza Strip, in the southern city of Ashdod, on May 18, 2021. (Avi Roccah/Flash90)

“How can we start again? I don’t know,” Malka told Kan. “I can’t even tell you. It’s so hard.”

“I do not cry because I need to live. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said. “I need to live so that they and my children are ok.”

Her neighbor Klara Sackler came to help try to salvage some of the family’s belongings.

“It’s an explosion inside your heart when you have worked so hard for so many years, and suddenly in one second, it’s all gone,” Sackler said.

Rivka Gorinstein tried to gather as much as she could salvage from the ruins of her home.

“What happened here is a catastrophe,” she said. “It will take a long time to fix.”

Meanwhile, Esther Ruth Katz said there was almost a sense of relief after the rocket hit, after so many days of tension.

“After the explosion and the impact, you almost relax. It has now happened and that’s it. There is no more anxiety. We’ve been through it and it’s done,” she said.

Katya Ogbonna outside her home destroyed by a rocket fired from Gaza, May 17, 2021 (Screen grab/Kan)

However, Katya Ogbonna, whose Nigerian soccer player husband Ibezito was lightly hurt by shrapnel in the explosion, explained to Kan that the nightmare continues even after the attack.

“We count the explosions [from the rockets and interceptions] and it’s more than ten every time,” Ogbonna said. “When does it end? It doesn’t end.”

She recounted the initial moments as the siren wailed, and then the impact.

“I lay down on top of my two small daughters to protect them and then suddenly there was exploding glass everywhere. My husband was thrown into the air.” Ogbonna said. “The whole house is now broken glass. We can’t go back there.”

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