Ashkelon residents realize: We're just like Sderot

"I was playing outside when I heard something fall" says Carolyn Chen as she sits on a plastic chair in a temporary emergency room set up in the Barzilai Medical Center.

By
February 27, 2008 23:58
2 minute read.

Carolyn Chen, 11, whispers and holds her hand on her stomach as she talks about the Grad missile that hit near her in Ashkelon on Wednesday evening. "I was playing outside when I heard something fall" said Chen as she sat on plastic chair in a temporary emergency room set up in the city's Barzilai Medical Center. To treat the 12 victims from the Ashkelon attack and the 16 from the rocket barrage in Sderot, most of whom suffered from shock, the hospital made use of a cafeteria. They pushed back the tables and set up gurneys in their place. As Chen spoke, nurses searched for chocolate milk for her and the six other children who had been brought in that night. But for Chen, it was the missile that was most on her mind as she described how the force of the blast forced her to the ground. "I was trembling and I couldn't stand," she said. Chen tried to call her mother but failed to reach her. She made it home, but the pain in her stomach and the fear did not disappear. The same was true for Shaun, 11, who is actually Chen's uncle. He was in his bedroom when the missile hit and shook the building where they both live. "I thought it was an earthquake. I fell and hit my head," he said. "Then I do not remember what happened." Carolyn's mother, Nana Chen, said she heard the explosion on her way home from work and arrived at her door to hear from her children about their near miss. "They didn't want to eat, they didn't want to drink, they were scared. I didn't know what to do, so I brought them here," she said. She and her children said they felt safer in the hospital even though the missile struck an open lot around 30 meters from the fence that surrounds the hospital. However, Assistant Director Hay Emile told The Jerusalem Post that the structure itself was unprotected. On Wednesday evening, in the aftermath of the missile strike, the hospital staff began work to set up an emergency room that could be put into operation in a basement if needed. They also started to reinforce the windows with plastic. Lying in a gurney wrapped in a wool blanket, Lee Ben-Abu, 16, said she knew what it was like to be in an unprotected space; she has been living like that for close to seven years. On Tuesday, she said, a rocket hit so close to her Sderot home that it pock marked the walls. On Wednesday, when the warning siren rang out, she hid under the stairs because there is no safe room in her home. When the attack was over, she said, "I started to cry, I couldn't breath." Standing not so far away, Nana Chen also struggled to get over the day's attack, even though she had not been near it. "I am dying of fright. It's just like we are living in Sderot. I do not know how they live like this," she said.


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