On Saturday night, February 9, Osher and Rami Twito, ages 8 and 19, were running towards a bomb shelter after they heard the red-alert siren. The alarm affords Sderot residents 15 seconds to escape a falling rocket.
However, the bomb-shelter, located 100 meters away, was too far away for the Twito brothers to reach in time. The rocket exploded near the brothers and left them both severely wounded, as pieces of shrapnel hit their bodies. Osher’s left leg was severed in the explosion and Rami sustained breaks and fragments in both legs.
The two brothers are now in Ashkelon’s Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer, undergoing intense surgery and treatment, where Osher’s left leg has been amputated and doctors are now working to save his right leg. The Twito brothers’ parents were also hospitalized for shock and trauma.
The day after the attack, I was in Sderot doing my morning shopping in the Dahan grocery store. The events from the night before were still fresh on everyone’s mind. As I was waiting in line, one cashier began relating to me how Osher, the eight-year old, would come through her aisle every morning to buy his lunch.
“He was so full of life, a hyperactive kid,” she said. “He loved to play sports– basketball and soccer.” Another customer, friends with Osher’s family, added, “They [Hamas] took away his life. He will never run on a soccer field again.”
For some reason, these statements reminded me of a conversation I had at a Sabbath meal in Ra’anana that week-end. Ra’anana, a city located north of Tel Aviv, is home to some 78, 000 residents, many of whom are English-speaking immigrants.
I was visiting with a family, whose 10-year old son’s school recently hosted a group of children from a Sderot elementary school. The mother, Debby, was telling me how these Sderot children were given bags of candy that were collected in a summer camp in America.
“I looked at those kids and thought just how fortunate my own children were,” said Debby, originally from Bangor, Maine. “The biggest problem an 8-year old kid in Ra’anana wakes up to is if his Sega video game works. A child in Sderot has to deal with real-life problems, often life and death moments, on a daily basis.”
And here these Sderot children were being given candy for living with rockets. The mother, noted the absurdity of the situation. “The candies are a nice gesture, but they don’t change the reality these kids have to live with,” said Debby.
Her statement regarding life for the average Sderot child really hit the mark, as I watched the video of the rocket attack on the Twito brothers later that night. It was horrifying watching the terror scene – the agony and pain of one brother being carried away on the stretcher to the ambulance. In the background, neighbors of the Twito family yelled in frustration as children cried and parents stood in shock.
The street where the rocket hit is a street that I walk on to get work when I am in Sderot. It is the street that eight-year old Osher often ran on and the street that numerous other Sderot children and adults use daily.
At the end of the day, I will continue walking this street as will the residents of the neighborhood. Osher and his brother Rami, however, will no longer be able to walk or run on their neighborhood street or any other street in Sderot. Young Osher, who is still unconscious, will wake up to find a completely changed future ahead of him, because of one inexpensive rocket fired from Gaza.