'Who will wake me from this hell?'

Instead of celebrating her 70th birthday, Yariv Katz buried his mother who was killed by a Kassam.

kassam victim 224.88 (photo credit: )
kassam victim 224.88
(photo credit: )
Yariv Katz knew his mother was dead when he saw blood spilling from her crumpled body after Monday's Palestinian rocket attack in Moshav Yesha on the Gaza border. Yariv described that "nightmarish" sight as he stood before hundreds of mourners Tuesday in the cemetery outside of Kibbutz Gvar'am near Ashkelon, where both he and his 69-year-old mother, Shuli, lived. "When I was a small child you would comfort me when I had a bad dream. Now who will wake me from this endless hell?" Yariv said. Later, as he sat in the front yard of his mother's home after the funeral, he told The Jerusalem Post that the two of them had gone to Moshav Yesha to visit his aunt Leora, who was Shuli's sister-in-law. His aunt had recently arrived from the US, where she now lives, and was staying on the moshav with friends. Upon arrival, Yariv and Shuli parked and tried to find the entrance. Yariv said he was unsure they had come to the right home. His mother worried they were traipsing through a stranger's yard. So he suggested he would knock on the door to see if his aunt was there. As he passed the small pool area, he marveled that no one outside since it was such a nice evening. Moshe Yam, the aunt's friend, recalled that his wife had just roused him from reading the newspaper and called him downstairs the moment Yariv knocked on the door. Moshe and Yariv exchanged pleasantries. "I said, 'where is your mother?' He [Yariv] said, 'she is outside, we weren't sure this was your home.' I said, 'I'll come out with you to get her." Then there was an explosion and the room went dark, Yam said as he sat in his home. "We didn't see anything from all the sand and the dust that filled the room. I knew immediately it was a Kassam," Yam said. He speculates that had it fallen a few seconds later, both he and Yariv could have been killed along with Shuli. But in the explosion's aftermath, Yariv said his sole thoughts were for his mother. "I ran outside and yelled to her. I called and called. But there was no response," he said. He went back through the yard, down the driveway to the street. First his eyes went to the small hole the Kassam made as it hit the pavement. Then he saw his mother on the ground and understood that she was dead. "It was like a bad dream," said Yariv, 40, who smoked as he talked. His face reddened as he describe the scene. He had not understood that he was entering an area where Kassams regularly fell, since the rockets have not fallen on his kibbutz ,even though it is within missile range. "If I had known that there would be Kassams I would not have gone there," he said, as he shook his head and put out his cigarette. His mother was due to celebrate her 70th birthday next month, Yariv said. The family had already began to organize a large party in her honor and among other things had begun culling through albums to put together a pictorial history of her life. "Instead of a party, we have a funeral," he said. Shuli and her husband Rafi were childhood sweethearts who were born in Israel, grew up on the kibbutz and married at age 20, said Yariv. They had four children and five grandchildren. His grandparents were European refugees who fled to Israel in advance of the Holocaust, Yariv said. When she was younger, he said, his mother worked for 35 years as a nurse. People called her all hours of the day and night to help them with medical crises, he said. "She loved to help people," he said. Three years ago, Rafi died of cancer. In his memory, Shuli kept his flower garden growing. It was comforting to her to buy and plant bulbs, Yariv added. Now as he sat in her garden, friends and family members came to comfort him. Absent from the home and the funeral were any government representatives. Even Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who visited the area Tuesday, did not stop by, Yariv said. The only official who came, Yariv said, was a representative of the European Union. Barak, however, did visit Moshav Yesha, where rockets are a common occurence. "It won't take another eight years, not even one more year," Barak told residents. "But the reality will also not change tomorrow." Yaakov Katz contributed to this report