Iris Twito, the mother of two sons injured by Qassam rockets in the city of Sderot, decided to grant an exclusive interview with Sderot Media Center, following the Gaza aid flotilla fiasco. “The entire world hates us,” says Iris, “but they don’t know what we’ve been through.”
The Twito family is a living testament for why there is a naval blockade on Gaza. “It’s not just Sderot that is under threat today, but the whole country,” said Iris. “It is vital that we stop these flotilla boats because we cannot allow Hamas to terrorize our Israeli children.”
Sitting on her patio in Ashdod, with a cigarette in hand, Iris recalls the most horrifying experience a mother can go through. Three years ago, Iris’s sons Osher and Rami, then eight and 19 respectively, were walking to an ATM machine in Sderot, when the rocket alarm went off. As the two brothers frantically attempted to locate a shelter in the middle of one of Sderot’s main streets, the Qassam rocket struck meters away from the two.
Osher and Iris Twito three years after Osher was maimed by a Qassam rocket. (Photo: Anav Silverman/Sderot Media Center)
The exploded shrapnel sliced through the boys’ legs. Residents poured out to the street to help but another rocket alert went off, forcing everyone to flee to shelter again. Moments later, the ambulances arrived to transport the boys to the closest hospital, Ashkelon’s Barzilai hospital located 20 minutes away from Sderot.
Amidst the flashing cameras at what was one of Sderot’s goriest scenes resulting from a rocket attack, Iris collapsed from the shock of seeing of her two sons lying next to each other, surrounded by a pool of their own blood. The entire city of 19,000 were subsequently shocked by the developments to follow.
The rocket attack left Osher in a coma for two weeks. The young boy had to go through intensive surgeries; his left leg had to be amputated, and doctors had to operate on a hole in his chest and his injured lungs. The older brother Rami’s legs were also badly damaged and operated on.
After a year in the hospital, Osher was released in a bright red wheelchair. His right leg was still badly damaged, but a new artifical limb was fitted on his left.
“Osher goes to intensive therapy every week to this day to help adjust to walking again,” said Iris. Osher, with big brown eyes and a freckled face, walks over to sit by his mother, slowly limping and murmurs hello.
Iris and her husband decided that it would be best to move the family from the heart of Hamas’s target city, Sderot, to Ashdod, Israel’s fifth largest city, that at the time located 40 kilometers (24 miles) away from the Gaza Strip was not under missile threat.
“But the rockets can reach Ashdod now too,” Iris remarks fretfully. During Operation Cast Lead, Grad missiles, which are smuggled into Gaza from Iran, struck Ashdod playgrounds, kindergartens and homes, killing one Israeli woman at a bus stop and seriously injuring many more.
“Ashdod is not sheltered like Sderot” Rami explains. “Even our home doesn’t have a bomb-shelter yet.”
Rami, now 21 and married with two young daughters, a toddler and a baby, expressed how the last week and a half had been hard on the family. “When we heard that the flotilla from Turkey was heading to the Gaza port, we were very scared because we had no idea what kind of weapons could be on the ships.”
As Iris’s youngest son, Osher, shyly cuddles up to his mother, Iris Twito reemphasizes the need for the Gaza naval blockade in order to protect innocent Israeli civilians like her family from future missile warfare.
“The government of Israel needs to ensure security for all Israelis and make sure that other Israelis are protected from the kind of tragedy that struck our family,” said Iris. “Even Barack Obama at one time agreed with us. Osher met Obama two years ago,” explained Iris, as Obama following the flotilla events said the territory’s situation is “unsustainable.” According to Iris, the US President after hearing the young boy’s harrowing story privately told him “I would do everything to defend my daughters from rocket attacks, if they were in your position.”
As the Gaza flotilla was clearly only a provocation, carrying merely 10 thousand tons of aid, when Israel gave over 738,000 tons of aid in 2009 alone. This violent political stunt was only aimed at weakening Israel’s security and strengthening the Hamas military to put more families like the Twitos under threat.
Three years ago, Iris’s maternal instincts made her remove her kids from the daily horror of the Sderot rocket reality to what was a safer city. Today, under a larger missile threat, Iris’s maternal instincts are standing up against immense international pressure to lift the Gaza naval blockade implemented to protect Israeli children from going through what her two boys were forced to endure.
Oh, yes, these Hamas toy rockets are sooooooo evil.
Jap, the Hamas-Rockets are evil. The Hamas wants to hurt so much civilian people as possible, than they hide behind their own children to produce more civilian victims for the media. These people are a ordinary killers who wants to exterminate all jews in the world and then the hole people, which are don’t want to follow the Quran.
I wish the people of Sderot freedom and peace and all the best.
The family shows why Israel needs to heed Meir Kahane’s Mosaic call for Israel to expel their sworn enemies. Gaza should have been cleansed of Nazi Muslims years ago instead of Jews being removed from their homes.
It isn’t the rockets that are evil, but the people firing them. These people are celebrated as heros in Palestine for what–? Killing defenseless people and maiming young children? As an American, I have no right to form an opinion on any of this. I don’t live through that kind of hell each day, and I’d be a damn fool to say who’s right and who’s wrong in this. But in ANY situation where the pride of a government wanting to save face overcomes the importance of innocent civilians’ safety… well, that just sounds downright inhumane. It’s an insult to human life itself. My heart truly goes out to this family, and all the others whos stories we’ll never hear. They’re the ones who deserve to be heard.