When the air raid sirens rang out at about 1 p.m. on Thursday, the lifeguard at a Rehovot recreation center scrambled to collect the children from the swimming pool.
In the 90 seconds allotted by Home Front Command to get the swimmers safely to a shelter up the hill, the lifeguard described the process as a daunting task.
“I was at the pool sitting in the chair when the alarm started,” he told The Jerusalem Post about two hours after the attack, back in his lifeguard post. “I asked all the children to go to the showers.”
Nearly all of the children heeded the lifeguard’s orders.
One small boy, however, ran in the opposite direction, explaining that he did not want to leave his flip-flops behind, the lifeguard said.
“I saw the boy – he ran over here – he said, ‘I need my flip flops,’” he continued.
“I told him, ‘Leave your flip flops alone.’” Standing with the boy next to the kiddie pool, the lifeguard said he pleaded with him to run to the shelter, but to no avail.
Within less than a minute of when the siren had sounded, shrapnel from the Iron Dome interception flew into a pole just three meters from where he and the boy were positioned, and afterwards splattered into the water.
“We stood here, and all the debris from the rocket spread all over the pool,” he said.
At the same time, another chunk of shrapnel landed on one of the tennis courts at the facility. In both incidents, no injuries occurred.
Asked whether he was frightened as the situation unfolded, the lifeguard said he was “just worried about the boy.”
“It happened faster than you can think,” he added.
The lifeguard said that although he has mixed feelings about the recreation center remaining open during this tumultuous time, he will keep working his shifts.
A manager for the center told the Post that it will continue to remain open unless otherwise instructed by Home Front Command.
Expressing sadness about the current security situation, the lifeguard explained that on typical summer nights when the pool is open, 300 to 400 children can be seen swimming. On Wednesday night, however, he said only about 50 arrived.
“It was so sad that only 50 people arrived,” he said.
“Now it’s the vacation. I want to see them swimming and laughing. The pool is supposed to be filled with children.”