Mother, toddler seriously wounded

Both suffer massive shrapnel wounds throughout their bodies.

Doctors were trying on Wednesday night to stabilize the condition of a young mother and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter who were the people most seriously wounded by a Grad rocket attack on Ashkelon's Hutzot Mall. The mother, Avital Afgin, 24, had told family members that she was taking her daughter Tai'r for a doctor's visit shortly before the rocket struck meters away from where they were walking. They both suffered massive shrapnel wounds throughout their bodies. They were initially evacuated to Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital, but were later transferred to Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer. Relatives gathered from across the country at the entrance to the emergency room, conveying the terrible news to family and friends in dozens of frantic phone calls and admonishing all those with whom they spoke to pray for the young victims. "I heard about the attack live, and I said to myself that Avital and [her husband], Adi, are such pure, sweet people, such a terrible thing couldn't possibly have happened to them," said one of Avital's uncles in the hospital waiting room. Relatives spoke of a quiet, sweet mother of two, whose husband, 25, studied at a military yeshiva before enlisting in the IDF, where he is currently attending officers' training school. Dr. Arnon Afek, the assistant director of Sheba Hospital, said Wednesday night that the two were in no immediate danger, but that doctors had yet to complete a full assessment of their injuries. They both suffered multi-system wounds, he said. "We received two casualties from Barzilai earlier this evening," he said. "Both suffered from shrapnel injuries all over their bodies, and were sedated and intubated. They are both listed in serious condition," Afek said, adding that assessment of their wounds would take a number of hours. Family members followed the gurneys to the entrance of the operating rooms, as doctors prepared to operate to further assess the pair's wounds. "Oh my God. Look at her face. It's all torn up," cried out one of Avital's aunts as she saw her niece wheeled down the hallway. Ta'ir, sedated and intubated, was taken to the operating room a few minutes later, a tangled mess of dark curly hair barely visible above the oxygen mask and tubes covering the toddler's face.