'I thought I would die on the spot'

Sderot parents cope with another Kassam near-miss.

kassam attack 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
kassam attack 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
He is is only 18 months old, but Idan Chaim Ben-Zikri has already survived two Kassam attacks. Six months ago a rocket destroyed his home. On Monday one landed outside his day care center. When his father Meir arrived to pick him up, he seemed unaware of the commotion around him. "Idan was apathetic; he didn't react and didn't cry. We took him to see the municipality psychologist, who told us to take him to the hospital if his condition continues," Meir told The Jerusalem Post. "I was at the factory where I work and when the alarm went off I called my wife to check on her. But then we heard that the fifth Kassam of that morning fell at the child's day care center. I thought I would die on the spot," Ben-Zikri said. He raced to the scene, where he found shocked teachers and other horrified parents. "Children were crying and there was a lot of glass all over the place," said Meir. Dina Moyal, who manages the day care center, told the Post that on Sunday the center had inaugurated a fortified room, but that the teachers and children had not used it because they did not hear the "Code Red" alarm. "When we heard the explosion it felt like the Kassam fell inside the building. It was terrible. The children were sitting on the carpet and listening to one of the assistants playing the organ; there was glass everywhere. The children were crying and the teachers were completely shocked," said Moyal. "Word of the near miss spread amid the parents like wildfire. Parents rushed in, hysterical. Most of them took their children and those who couldn't function left their children to our responsibility. A Tel Aviv native, Moyal moved to Sderot in 1978. The mother of four children, she said two of them had left Sderot for good. "I don't know what has to be done, I only want this to stop," she said. Ben-Zikri currently lives with his family of five children in a temporary home, until the municipality repairs their former one. But like everyone else in Sderot, he is fed up. After seven years of enduring rocket attacks, he is among those advocating a school strike until the government takes action. "I don't know how we can continue to raise our children here," said Meir. He added that he would leave if he could, but that he lacked the financial means to do so. "We don't breathe, we don't eat and we can't leave. Our only hope is the government, which doesn't do enough," said Meir. His family, he explained, had paid and continues to pay a high price for the country. His older son, Shimon, serves in an IDF combat unit while his second daughter, Rachel, will be inducted into military service in two months. "I can't understand why my children have to serve in the IDF if the IDF cannot protect us, a city within Israel's borders," said Meir.