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gaza strike 224 88.(Photo by: AP)
Sderot boy severely hurt by Kassam
Rebecca Anna Stoil and JPost.com Staff
02/25/2008
Israel pledges to take "necessary steps" to prevent attacks as w. Negev hit by barrage of rockets.
While television cameras and telephoto lenses were pointed westward to capture the Gaza protest that failed to live up to expectations, a 10-year-old Sderot boy was seriously hurt while playing outside with his sister as the town faced another day of Kassam rocket fire. Even as Gazans emphasized in the morning hours that their protest would be a peaceful one, two rockets were fired at Israeli communities in the western Negev, with one landing inside the Palestinian-controlled territory and a second landing in a field. But less than two hours after the Gaza protest ended, three more Kassams reached their targets, all landing in Sderot itself. Ten-year-old Yossi Haimov, who was playing with his eight-year-old sister, Maria, in the courtyard of the apartment building where they live, was struck by shrapnel, and almost a dozen other people were treated for shock. Eyewitnesses gathered outside the ramshackle apartment block said shortly after the strike that the boy had heard the "Color Red" siren and tried to take cover near a large cement structure. When the rocket landed nearby, it sent chunks of concrete and glass from nearby buildings flying, some of which hit the boy in his shoulder. Maria said after the attack that the two had returned home together from school, dropped their backpacks off at home, and then left the house again to meet friends in the sandy courtyard, which is dominated by a bomb shelter and a large concrete block. Although the two tried to take cover, she soon realized that her brother had been hit. "I saw his arm was covered in blood, but he didn't cry," the eight-year-old recalled, describing how she and her brother screamed for the owners of a nearby corner store to call an ambulance. Both of the children's parents were at work when the rocket struck. Magen David Adom teams managed to stop the boy's severe bleeding, but doctors at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital, where Yossi was hospitalized, said that his shoulder was shattered. Originally listed in serious condition, he was upgraded to moderate condition after doctors rushed him into surgery to try and save his arm. Hours later the hospital's assistant director, Dr. Ron Luven, announced that Yossi's arm had been saved. Within minutes after the strike, the courtyard was full of the boy's neighbors, who stared at the sandy spot where the rocket landed and voiced their frustration at the situation in the town. Groups of elderly women in flowered headscarves - members of Sderot's large community of immigrants from the Caucasus Mountains - gathered together on the outskirts of the crowd, speaking emphatically in their native language. The crowd parted as an elderly woman was carried down from her second story apartment, screaming and sobbing uncontrollably. A young MDA volunteer trailed behind the stretcher, carrying the woman's cane gingerly with her into the ambulance as neighbors screamed at photographers not to photograph the woman in distress. "Don't take any more pictures of us, we've had enough! Enough! Leave us alone," screamed one young mother, holding a year-old baby in her arms. "We've been suffering here for eight years, while the prime minister is sitting in air conditioning far away. I want to invite [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert to come here as our guest and spend a day or two here with us in Sderot," said one young boy, who said that he witnessed the wounded youngster trying to run for cover. The Prime Minister's Office issued a condemnation of the latest strikes - for which the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility - adding a warning: "Those striking at Israeli children will find themselves dealing with an Israel compelled to defend itself. We will not tolerate these attacks and will take the necessary steps to prevent them." Less than three hours later, four mortar shells were fired at Israeli territory from Gaza. Two fell in the greenhouses of Moshav Netiv Ha'asara, a third landed near the Erez Crossing, and the fourth fell short and landed in Gaza. Shortly after that strike, another two rockets were fired toward the northwestern Negev, with one landing in the middle of a road and the second landing in a kibbutz chicken coop, causing damage. The Kassam attacks continued Monday night with two landing in Sderot. One damaged a house, after hitting its back yard, while the other landed in the city's industrial zone. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.
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