(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Yarin Levy, 16, was on his way home from the barbershop in Ashkelon on Sunday when shrapnel from an exploding rocket hit him in the chest and landed him instead in Barzilai Medical Center’s intensive care unit.
Throughout the afternoon his family huddled in a small waiting room outside the unit, as warning sirens continued to wail in the large southern city on the Mediterranean.
After speaking with Yarin’s doctors when the seriously wounded boy’s condition had stabilized, his father, Avinoam, walked outside to take a small break and sat on a small wall to the side of the hospital.
A few friends found him there, shook his hand, and asked him questions about the attack. Wanting to be helpful, one of them went inside and bought him a Coke.
Avinoam told The Jerusalem Post about the attack that jolted the family out of what had otherwise been a routine summer day and into a nightmare.
Yarin had called him around 8:30 a.m., while he was on his way to work, and sought permission to leave the house to get a haircut, recalled Avinoam.
“He just wanted a haircut, just like any 16-year-old,” said Avinoam.
But given the security situation and the rockets that had fallen on Ashkelon and were likely to continue to fall, Avinoam told Yarin he was nervous and didn’t want him to leave the house.
“At first I objected. I was in the car, I spoke with him on the telephone, I said, ‘It’s not worth it. It’s not safe. Stay home with your brothers and sisters,” Avinoam recalled.
“But in the end he convinced me, because the barbershop is not so far away.”
Yarin made it to the barbershop safely and was walking home around 12:30 p.m., when the Color Red rocket- warning siren sounded.
“He was only 20 meters from the house. He tried to run in the direction of the house, but realized he would not make it. So he cowered by a wall,” said Avinoam.
The wall offered slim protection, as a rocket struck 20 meters away on a sandy strip of ground, just off a major residential street.
Shards from the rocket hit Yarin in the chest and he was rushed immediately to Barzilai Medical Center, which also treated five victims of shock from the attack.
Avinoam had just arrived at a customer’s house in Hadera, when his wife called, hysterical, to tell him that their eldest son among five had been seriously wounded in the attack.
“It was a very difficult conversation,” recalled Avinoam, who said he worried the whole way to the hospital, not knowing what he would find when he arrived.
“I do not wish the drive to the hospital on anyone,” Avinoam said.
His first sight of his unconscious son was hard, but he was comforted by seeing that a “staff of angels” was working to treat Yarin, said Avinoam.
“At this moment, I just came out of intensive care and the doctor said that his condition is stable. We are waiting and hoping and praying that he will recover with God’s help,” Avinoam said.
Yarin is strong, as is his family, said Avinoam. “I believe that we will survive this,” he added.
He said he maintains hope for a peaceable outcome to the war with Gaza in general and the Palestinians who live there, just a short distance away.
“They are our neighbors,” Avinoam said. “We have to live with them. I hope that in the next generation, our children will live together in peace.”