It seemed that Sderot residents were going to experience a rare day of quiet on Tuesday, April 22. But around 7:30 p.m, two Qassams fired from northern Gaza broke the calm. One rocket hit a Sderot home, damaging the building and sending several people into shock.
The owners of the home, Michael and Evgenia Zaretskay, who immigrated from Belarus 17 years ago, were downstairs when the rocket hit.
“I was upstairs when the second siren of the evening went off,” Evgenia said. “My husband told me to come down immediately. I went down and seconds later we heard the awful explosion. I knew our home had been hit.”
The Zaretskys are among the many families in Sderot whose home does not have a bomb shelter. Their daughter, who lives next door with her husband, was also home with her daughters at the time.
The rocket hit a bedroom in the Zaretskay’s home. The families including the grandparents and grandchildren were standing inches away from the rocket as it landed through the side of the home into the bedroom, right above a gas tank. Michael tells me that every time the siren sounds, he and his wife and their daughter’s family head downstairs, and huddle together away from the windows. “Thank G-d, my wife came down the moment she did,” Michael said.
The rocket was packed with pieces of shrapnel and tiny bits of metal. Had the rocket exploded, as many Qassam rockets do, it would have caused much greater damage and devastation to the second floor of the Zaretskay’s home. Meanwhile, the bedroom of the home is full of rubble and debris, with a wide gaping hole for a window where the rocket struck. Dust and dirt cover much of the floor outside the bedroom.
Evgenia, 63, spent two weeks cleaning her home for Passover.
“Everything was so clean. Now look at the mess that I have to clean up,” she said in typical grandmother fashion.
“We don’t even have running water right now to begin the cleaning,” her husband added. “The rocket damaged the water system and no one has been able to fix the boiler yet.
The Zaretsky’s granddaughters, ages 10 and 15, are still in shock from the attack. Evgenia and Michael’s daughter explained that a psychologist was supposed to come this morning to speak with her daughters, but she never arrived. “The girls could not sleep all night,” she said. “They kept waiting for the next siren alert, for the next boom.”
The mother took the girls to the Sderot Trauma Center after the attack. She works as a nurse at a local hospital and was supposed to work this morning. “I took the day off,” she said. “My girls need me now more than ever. They have been traumatized enough with the daily sirens and rocket explosions and now this.
Her girls are quiet as they stand with their mother.”We never imagined that a rocket could strike our home,” Evengia said.
Evgenia was a piano teacher in Belarus before she and her husband, along with her mother and daughter immigrated to Sderot. She could not find work as a piano teacher in the area, so she began working in the local Osem factory with her husband. “I worked there for 13 years. Now my husband and I are retired. We had everything we needed to live a quiet comfortable life.”
And then the rocket terror began. “I worry most for my granddaughters,” she added. “They were born here in Sderot. Their great-grandmother, my mother, lived here as well. We were four generations living in Sderot at one time,” Michael said with a sense of pride in his voice..
“If you had the chance would you move?” I asked.
“To where?” they both responded. “These rockets reach everywhere.”