Katyusha survivor recounts rocket attack

Hila Ben Hemo lived in Kiryat Shmona for 34 years and never imagined that a Katyusha could hit her home until a rocket blew out her dining room wall on Tuesday night. "I have heard all of the operations, all the Katushas, but I have never experienced anything like this, especially when there are young children around," she told Army Radio. When the Katyusha rocket hit her home at 11:15 p.m., she was sleeping in her bedroom with her husband. The first ones she thought about were her children, aged nine, seven, and two-and-a-half who were sleeping in their rooms. Ben Hemo related that she always had a tendency to be overly concerned for her children, startled even by a remote control falling on the floor in the middle of the night. She was very thankful that the blast didn't wake the youngsters. She thought the children were fortunate not to experience the trauma felt by their parents. When her home was hit, she said that her husband grabbed her from behind so that she wouldn't cause any harm, scaring the children or falling down the stairs. Kiryat Shmona, a city that is located in the northern Galilee, experienced many such attacks since the late 1970s and during the whole time that the IDF was present in Lebanon until Israel pulled its forces out in May 2000. Since then there were only very few such incidents, with most of the attacks targeted against the IDF base at Mount Dov along the Lebanese border. During that time the city's residents often had to evacuate to bomb shelters for protection from the assault. Ben Hemo noted that the first thing she insisted her husband did when they moved into their home was to build a private shelter. She noted it was not easy because of economic hardships. Her husband is the sole financer of the family. Only when they were safe in the bomb shelter, did the realization sink in that their home was hit. Ben Hemo returned to home to assess the damage. She found that the Katyusha struck a wall shared between her home and their neighbors', blowing it into the dining room and kitchen. Ben Hemo was horrified at how the Katyusha assault returned after five years since IDF forces withdrew from Lebanon. She related that she was sure the quiet would continue. "I wish all this would end already and that we would return to normal," she said, "We really have had enough."