Army urges Israelis to stay below window level in shelters

Window of shelter where rocket shrapnel killed boy appears to have been sound

Military spokesman says Ido Avigal’s death at home in Sderot was caused by an ‘incredibly rare’ convergence of events, as rocket piece shot through protective metal plating

Ido Avigal, who was killed in his home in Sderot by a rocket fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021. (Twitter)
Ido Avigal, who was killed in his home in Sderot by a rocket fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021. (Twitter)

The exterior window plating of the fortified room in a Sderot apartment where a 5-year-old boy was killed Wednesday appears to have been up to standards, officials said Thursday.

Ido Avigal was killed inside the fortified room when a piece of shrapnel from a rocket fired by Gaza terrorists pierced through the protective metal plating used to cover the window.

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the incident in which Avigal was killed was the result of an “incredibly rare” convergence of events.

“It was a piece of the rocket that came in at a very specific angle, at a very specific speed and at a very specific point,” Zilberman said, but the window plating had been constructed properly.

However, Channel 12 news reported that it appeared the window plating had been built according to the old standard, which demanded the plating be 12 mm (0.47 inches) thick. A new standard introduced two years ago requires plating to be at least 16 mm (0.63 inches) thick. An expert told the network he believed the shrapnel would not have pierced such plating.

Channel 13 reported that officials were weighing replacing the plating in all fortified rooms in communities near the Gaza Strip.

In light of the incident, the military has urged Israelis to ensure that bomb shelter window platings are fully closed and instructed them to try to stay below the level of the window when sirens sound.

Avigal’s mother grabbed him and took him to the fortified room when incoming rocket sirens sounded Wednesday evening in Sderot, as a volley of rockets was fired at communities in the south and Tel Aviv metropolitan area. However, despite barricading themselves in the room, the rocket shrapnel punctured the shelter’s window, critically injuring him and also wounding his mother and seven-year-old sister. He was pronounced dead several hours later.

The rocket also injured four other people.

The scene of a direct rocket hit on a building in Sderot, southern Israel, shrapnel from which killed Ido Avigal, 5, on May 12, 2021. (Sderot Municipality)

“Yesterday, we were at home and the kids were a little bored, so my wife Shani went with them to her sister’s house two buildings over,” Ido’s father, Asaf Avigal, told Channel 13.

When he heard the siren, Avigal said he entered the shelter at their home. When the sirens ended, he left the room and sent his family a message, “as we normally do.”

“No one answered me,” he continued. “I walked toward the building and suddenly I saw a wounded woman inside an ambulance. It was my wife. She told me, ‘Asaf, Ido died.’ I don’t understand how something like this happened, I’m mad at myself. I don’t believe my son died. What a disaster.”

The mother remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Ido Avigal is one of seven people killed in Israel since the current round of fighting with Palestinian terror groups in Gaza erupted Monday evening, when the Strip’s Hamas rulers launched several rockets toward Jerusalem.

The other victims of rocket fire were 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, Israel Defense Forces 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.

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