Rocket kills father running for shelter

Witnesses recount horror and miracles in Nahariya.

Andre Zilensky was racing from his apartment in Nahariya to the nearby bomb shelter with milk for his four-year-old daughter when he was hit and killed by a Hizbullah rocket around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Zilensky had been among the thousands of residents who huddled in communal shelters and private protected rooms as multiple rockets hit the city, wounding four people, damaging a roof, destroying electricity lines and blowing out the windows of an apartment building and a synagogue. More than 80 people were wounded throughout the day, most of them lightly. Zilensky's death marks the city's second fatality in six days of rocket attacks. On Thursday, a missile killed Argentinean immigrant Monica Lehrer Zeidman in her penthouse apartment. On Tuesday, the coastal city saw another death. Standing in the doorway of the white concrete shelter, still trembling in fear, Allah El-Asei told the The Jerusalem Post how he had seen Zilensky running for the shelter when the warning siren sounded. Zilensky's wife was waiting for him in the shelter's doorway, and saw the impact, said Asei, who was also just inside the entrance when he heard the explosion. "A burning smell and smoke filled the air," he said. When the smoke cleared, he saw that the rocket had ripped apart Zilensky's body, scattering pieces of bone and flesh across the green lawn and pathway between the shelter and nearby apartment buildings. "I saw his open heart still beating," said Asei, who is thinking of moving back to his Druse village of Daliat al-Carmel. "I was thinking about it before today, but now I think we have to go," he said. "I'm not afraid for myself, it's the children." He pointed to brown spots on the path many meters away and said, "See, this is where his flesh was." A neighbor, Igor Zeliansky, said that when he first went outside after the explosion he thought he was looking at mangled parts of a dog that had also been in the yard at the time. It took him a few moments to understand what had happened. He said that Zilensky was in his 30s and, like him, had immigrated from the former Soviet Union. But he balked at providing further details. "A man is dead, what does it matter when he came here. He was a person and now there is nothing left, not even his head," said Zeliansky as he stood by the small pile of rubble left by the rocket. Minister of Science, Culture and Sports Ophir Paz-Pines, who toured the area on Tuesday, had been scheduled to visit the bomb shelter around the time the rocket hit. At the last second, there was a schedule change and the minister and his assistants went to Nahariya Government Hospital instead. While Zeliansky grappled with his loss, a few blocks away other Nahariya residents were busy counting miracles near the site of a second rocket strike, between an apartment building and a synagogue. Efrat Sasson Cohen, whose legs were still shaking, said she had returned home from spending a few days in the safety of Kfar Saba. "I had just put my bags down when I heard the siren," she said. She thought she might have saved her father's life, because he slept through the siren and only woke up when she shook him. "I don't want to think of what would have happened if I hadn't been here," she said as she pointed to the shattered windows and the torn plaster from the walls in the third-floor apartment. Her neighbor, Aviva Chadman, who had just returned from a moshav near Tiberias when the siren sounded, said she was heading right back out. "We didn't make it out of the car. We sat there trembling as the car shook," she said. She had come back because after six days, she yearned for home and believed that the lack of attacks during the day were a sign that hostilities had wound down. A neighbor walking toward a car with a pillowcase filled with clothes told Chadman, "Next time, listen to the news." But in the nearby Chabad synagogue, whose windows and electrical system were destroyed by the rocket, Shimon Gorelick said he was staying put. He was joined by a small group of men for afternoon prayers in the unlit glass-filled room. "We'll be here for the evening prayer and we'll be here for Shabbat," he said. Amid the destruction, he was eager to show the miracle that had occurred. Removing its cover, he displayed the only glass object that had remained intact: a television set used weekly to show videos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.