The Malka family
Carmit Malka and her husband, Oshri were born and raised in Sderot. Carmit recalls a wonderful childhood, where she was free and happy to play on the streets of Sderot. “My parents were poor, hardworking individuals. I remember growing up, feeling safe and secure in Sderot. I was happy.”
“Why can’t my kids have that kind of childhood? Carmit asks.
Their sons Noam and Idan, ages six and four respectively, were not home when a rocket hit their home, Tuesday, April 29, at 9:00 am. The family had leftjust a half-hour earlier to take the children to school and head to work.
The Qassam rocket destroyed the Malkas’ bathroom, which they use as a bomb shelter. Most of the families in the Malkas’ neighborhood do not have bomb shelters. There is a public bomb shelter at the end of the street for the families to use, but there is not enough time to reach it.
“Even if I was an Olympic athlete, I wouldn’t be able to get to the shelter within 15 seconds,” Oshri said.
I visited the Malka family a day after the rocket attack on their home. Carmit was still visibly shaken. She told me that she and the kids went for treatment at the Sderot Trauma Center after the attack.
“I see all these Sderot mothers getting their medication and valium pills at the center,” she said. “I don’t want to end up like those mothers, but I’m afraid I will because of this situation.”
The Malka family is in no mood to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary. “I feel like hanging up a black flag above our home,“ Oshri said. There will be no mangal (barbeque) this year in our backyard for our neighbors and friends.”
The Malka family has temporarily been provided with a hotel room in Ashkelon until more permanent living arrangements are made. It could take up to eight or even 12 months before the Israeli government provides the Malkas with financial assistance to repair their home.
“We are fighting two battles,” Carmit said. “The first was with this Qassam rocket fired from Hamas. The second is with the Israeli government and Israel Tax Authority.”
Levi Vananu and Robbi Elimelech
On Sunday, May 4, Levi Vananu’s bedroom was hit by a rocket around 3:30 pm in the afternoon.
Levi Vananu, Robby Elimelech, and a few other Sapir students had been renting a home in Sderot for over a year.
When he heard the Tzeva Adom alert, Vananu left his bedroom and entered his home’s bomb shelter.
A few seconds later, a Qassam rocket blasted through his bedroom, causing heavy damage to his room and destroying the bathroom.
A gaping hole left by the rocket is visible above Vananu’s bed, as dirt, rubble, and pieces of glass cover his bed and floor. The rocket finally landed on Vananu’s bed.
Dror and Rochelle Ronnen
The Ronnen family are neighbors of Levi Vananu. Their home was also damaged by the Qassam rocket that exploded in Vananu’s home. Pieces of rocket shrapnel shattered the windows in the Ronnen home and destroyed the front door to their home.
Dror built his family’s beautiful home 30 years ago with the help of friends and family. “We invested everything into this house,“ Rochelle said.
Rochelle was the director of a pre-school program in Sderot for many years. She was forced to stop when the rocket fire began. Eventually, it became impossible for his wife to manage 50 children under the constant ’red alert’ sirens and rocket explosions, said Dror. “She was devoting more and more time to telephone calls with the kids’ parents who were calling to make sure their children were safe. She felt she just couldn’t handle that responsibility anymore, so she left.”
“We had the opportunity to leave Sderot at the beginning of our marriage, but we decided to stay for the community warmth and atmosphere,” Dror added. “The most difficult reality of living in Sderot today is the feeling that the government is not behind us. We are left here like orphans—to fend for ourselves in this rocket situation.”
Last year, during Yom Ha’atzmaut, a Tzeva Adom alert sounded during the Ronnen family’s barbeque. They calmly went into the bombshelter, waited a few seconds, and then proceeded with the barbeque.
“This year we will not be able to have the traditional family barbeque here in Sderot because of what happened to our home. Instead we will have the barbeque in Kibbutz Dorot, near Sderot, at friends,” Dror said.
“This is not independence for me,” he contined. “Independence means I can celebrate Israel’s 60th Independence Day knowing that the rocket fire and sirens will stop — at least for the day.
“Independence means that I sit with my family and enjoy our barbeque in peace and quiet here in my home.”