Mother and son killed in rocket attack

Rocket scores direct hit; at least 170 Katyushas fired across northern Israel.

Dir el-asad 298 (photo credit: AP)
Dir el-asad 298
(photo credit: AP)
A Katyusha rocket exploded in the courtyard of a residential building in Deir el-Asad on Thursday, killing a mother and her five-year-old son and seriously wounding her other son and mother-in-law. Eleven people were wounded in the explosion and rushed to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya. Eight were listed in satisfactory condition and one suffered moderate wounds. Another 38 people were treated for shock. The dead were identified as Miriam Assadi, 26, and her son, Fathi, five. The seriously wounded were Fares Assadi, three, and Fatma Assadi, 50. The mother and children were on the ground floor of their apartment when a rocket exploded just outside the external wall and kitchen window. The kitchen and hallway were completely destroyed by the blast. According to neighbors, Fatma Assadi was standing in the tiny courtyard where the rocket landed. The Assadi apartment is located in a modern three-story residential building with a stone front on the first story and plaster walls above. The buildings in the neighborhood are packed tightly together. After ambulances carried off the dead and wounded and workers began to clear away the debris, angry townspeople milled about the house. "You know who is to blame for this," said one resident, referring to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Before he could say any more, neighbors dragged him away, fearing he might get in trouble for denouncing the government. Another resident became angry when asked whom he thought was responsible for the deaths. "I am amazed that the media is interested in whom we think is to blame instead of being shocked by what they see," said Omar Sanallah, a lawyer whose office is located in Karmiel. "[Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah has made mistakes, but the government has made a million times more. "It is a well known and commonplace act to kidnap soldiers in order to free your own people. It is done all over the world and Israel has also done it. Why don't you sit down at the negotiating table and prevent all this killing. Now the government wants to reach the Litani and this is the outcome that you will see and suffer." Others were not as direct in their criticism, often out of fear of possible government reprisals, they said. All called for an immediate end to the fighting and most blamed the US for the war. "God has abandoned us because we are all to blame," said one resident who declined to identify himself. "If they would have put the two kidnapped soldiers in a taxi and Israel would have put the Lebanese prisoners in a bus and sent them all home, this thing would not have happened. Look how much money and how many lives have been wasted. Isn't it a shame? We should go down to the highway and demonstrate against the US, because it could stop this in a second. It is the global power." Another resident, who also declined to identify himself, made even harsher allegations. "The US causes all the problems in the world," he said. "It put Israel and Lebanon into a cage, like two gladiators, and watches them kill each other." Deir el-Asad is part of a municipal federation called El-Shajur, which includes nearby Binya and Majdal Krum. In the past four weeks, four people from El-Shajur have been killed, dozens have suffered physical wounds and hundreds have suffered from shock, according to city spokesman Hassan Ali. About 35 rockets have fallen on the three villages. There is a warning siren in Deir el-Asad, but no public shelters except in the schools, and only 20 percent of the houses, all of which have been built since 1994, have safe rooms. Ali said residents have been told to stay on the ground floor facing south when the warning siren goes off. But one resident told The Jerusalem Post that most of the people in Deir el-Asad have been careless about taking protective measures when the siren sounds. The stores are open, unlike in Arab and Druse villages along the northern border. This might be because the shopkeepers are not sure they would be compensated by the government if they closed. The municipal authorities have not taken emergency measures such as distributing food and other basic necessities to the residents. One hour after the lethal attack, most of the town seemed to be open for business.