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(photo credit: AP [file])
Sderot fireman Yossi Turgeman responded to an emergency call on Thursday morning after a Kassam rocket crashed into a patio - only to discover it had hit his parents' back yard.
Initially, he told The Jerusalem Post, he had no idea he was racing to his parents' home, because he was not driving the emergency vehicle and did not have the exact address.
It was only just before he arrived that he began to fear for his mother and father. When he pulled up and saw that the sliding glass doors - the back wall of their dining and living room area - were totally destroyed, he jumped out of the vehicle to search for his parents.
Until he found them, he consoled himself with the thought that they were very careful and always went into the safe room when an alarm rang out.
"If they had not done that, they would not be alive now," Turgeman said. "So I feel as if I was given them today for a second time, as a gift."
As they stood in their kitchen, Meir and Rosa Turgeman graciously made coffee and handed out cold drinks to the visitors, including the media, who streamed through their apartment on the ground floor of a two-story building on the edge of Sderot.
They had just woken up at 8:15 and wandered into the kitchen to make coffee when a siren made them run to their safe room. "There was a series of sirens," Meir said. The first two passed without incident. But after the third siren, there was a loud explosion that caused them and the house to shake.
As he spoke, the small gray-haired man held his arms to his chest and moved them back and forth slightly to demonstrate how he had shaken from the blast.
He and Rosa were certain the Gazan rocket had their building. Instead, it was a near miss.
The rocket bounced off the railing of the apartment above them and dived into their patio, creating a small crater in the white tiles. It also broke the windows and pock-marked the walls of the three other apartments in the building, but no one was hurt. It was the second rocket to hit near their apartment this week, Meir and Rosa said. One had struck nearby a few years earlier, as well.
Around the corner from the Turgemans is a small elementary school. Only a few blocks away is a hilltop lookout point from which you can see Gazan apartments. On Thursday, clouds of gray smoke from IDF activity in Gaza stretched across the sky behind their apartment.
Their daughter Miri Amir, who also lives in Sderot, said she had been at work in a nearby kibbutz when her parents called. She was able to maintain her composure until 11 a.m., when she left early to check on them.
Now she stood there with her daughter Liran, five. The little girl with a pony tail and wide brown eyes held on shyly to her mother as she stared at the hole the rocket had made.
For the two weeks that Sderot's schools were closed at the start of Operation Cast Lead, Miri said, she had dropped Liran off at her parents' home for safety.
Luckily, she said, the schools were back in session, or Liran would have been there when the rocket hit. Had something happened to her, "I would have died," Miri said.
Despite their children's urging, Meir and Rosa insisted on sleeping in their home, rather than going to one of their children's apartments.
Yossi said his parents saw leaving as a sign of weakness.
"They don't want to give in to Hamas. This is a war for our homes," he said.