Viral video of kids crying after rocket scare underlines frustrations in south

Reut Shpilman, who filmed her children refusing to return home from bomb shelter after a false alarm, lashes Israeli leaders and says others don’t understand their suffering

Ori Shpilman seen in a bomb shelter in Ashkelon on November 27, 2019. (screen capture: Facebook)
Ori Shpilman seen in a bomb shelter in Ashkelon on November 27, 2019. (screen capture: Facebook)

A video of young children whimpering in an Ashkelon bomb shelter during a rocket scare has gone viral, highlighting frustration among southern residents at the persistent waves of violence battering the region.

The video was taken Tuesday night after a rocket alert siren went off in the coastal city just before midnight. The army later said no rocket was launched at the area, but that assurance didn’t help Reut Shpilman’s children as they shook in fear in the shelter.

“It’s very frustrating, the gap between understanding what’s happening here in the south and the way life just goes on outside the siren areas,” Shpilman, a mother of four, told Channel 12 news on Wednesday.

“In 30 seconds [after a siren sounds], we have to get four kids to the bomb shelter, which is outside the house. We can’t go on like this.”

The video, viewed over 86,000 times in the 20 hours after she posted it at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, shows three of her children in the local bomb shelter.

הי אתם שם למעלה, אתם שומעים?? כאן בדרום חיים במציאות בלתי אפשרית! באיזה מדינה בעולם נותנים שירו על האזרחים שלהם???? באיזה??ביבי, עם כל ההישגים שלך, אם ישנם אזרחים שחיים תחת פחד יומיומי! לא עשית כלום!! עדיף שתלך הביתה!! מעל 10 שנים אתה בשלטון! חאלס! אין את מי להאשים!

Posted by ‎רעות שפילמן דרייר‎ on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Daughter Ori, 8, is seen visibly shaking and weeping as she tells her mother, “I don’t want to,” after being told they would return to the house.

Yonatan, 6, hands clasped in front of him, frowns and visibly shakes as he moves to stand next to his mother.

Noam, 3, clings to his mother’s leg.

“I don’t want…[inaudible]…there won’t be any more wars, enough,” says 8-year-old Ori, lips quivering.

Reut suggests, “Let’s go inside the house.”

But Ori refuses. “Mom, I don’t like it in the house. I want to stay here.”

“How long can we stay here?” Reut asks her daughter.

“I’m scared, I want to stay here,” Ori insists, continuing to shiver. “I want to stay here.”

She said she filmed her children fully 20 minutes after the siren had sounded, after realizing she wasn’t able to calm them down.

An Israeli interceptor missile from the Iron Dome defense system is fired above the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on November 13, 2019, to intercept incoming short-range rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

Tuesday’s false alarm came as Israel carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to earlier rocket fire on the nearby city of Sderot. There were no Israeli injuries, though a woman was lightly hurt while running to a shelter.

The brief flareup broke several days of calm following two days of intense fighting on November 12-13 between the IDF and Islamic Jihad-led fighters in Gaza which saw over 400 rockets fired at Israel.

Gazan health officials said 34 people in the Palestinian enclave were killed during the skirmish. The toll included over a dozen terrorists, but also eight members of a single family whose home was seemingly targeted by mistake.

A girl being interviewed in Ashkelon while bracing for rocket fire on November 13, 2019. (screen capture: Channel 12 news)

During that conflict and others, a number of videos or pictures showing the plight of Israeli children cowering in bomb shelters or on sidewalks were widely shared.

The scuffle was the latest in a series of rounds of violence between Israel and Gaza over the last two years that have seen the region see-saw between intense fighting and temporary ceasefires.

Authorities have reported a sharp uptick in the number of residents of Gaza border communities suffering from symptoms of traumatic stress.

Residents gather in a shelter during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on November 13, 2019. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

“These images repeat themselves with every siren. This is the reality we live with,” Shpilman told Channel 12.

“My kids aren’t depressive, they’re happy, functioning kids. But this follows them everywhere,” she said. “My daughter is afraid to get on the [school] bus, because the driver puts on the news and she hears about incendiary balloons or kassam rockets falling. She’s afraid to go back up to her room, she asks, ‘if the siren sounds, what will we do?'”

In a Facebook post that accompanied the video Wednesday morning, Shpilman lashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders for failing to ensure her family’s safety.

New Defense Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (R) and Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter, the military secretary to the defense minister, on November 12, 2019. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

“Hey, you all, up there, can you hear me??” She demands in the post. “Here in the south our situation is unbearable! What country in the world would permit its citizens to be fired on???”

A right-wing voter — her Facebook profile picture includes a Yamina party ballot slip — she nevertheless demanded that Netanyahu “go home.”

Her words have been echoed by others in the south, including Sderot mayor Alon Davidi, who launched a broadside Wednesday against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief, and Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, a former defense minister, for bickering over politics instead of tackling the issue.

“For years we’ve heard that only they know the solution, if only we’d give them a chance,” he told Radio 101.5. “So shame on you.”

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