On life and death in an Israeli town under fire


This was written by Victor Yagoda

My daughter gave birth on Friday, three weeks earlier than expected. The little baby still does not have a name and she is not even 48 hours old. My wife and I live in the Galil, my daughter with her husband and 2 year old grandchild live near Beersheva.

Last night, Saturday, we were all visiting her when the warning alarm that an incoming Grad Mission from Gaza was targeting the region. The drill is that everybody has to move within not more than 15 seconds from their Maternity room which has windows, to the closest corridor that has fewer windows (15 seconds do not permit to go any further to an underground shelter).

So my wife and I helped my daughter get off the bed, put on her slippers and begin to push the cart where the newborn baby was sleeping and we walked out of the room… Believe it or not, it was not easy due to the traffic in the corridor, all the mothers, almost like dressed in uniform, were pushing their carts in the same direction. Most of them were alone, because it was shortly after Shabbat and after the Ramadan fast period ended, so they were valiantly doing this on their own, a few hours after a very, if not one of the most significant and meaningful moment in their life. Some of the women were Arab, others were Bedouins, Russian Olim, Ethiopian Olim, other people in the corridor were hospital staff, security, doctors and visitors… Oh yes, some were just veteran Israelis like my daughter, who is a 7 generation Israeli, pushing an eight generation baby that was not yet given a name…

My reflection while this was all happening was: Here we are in Beersheva where 4000 years ago, Abraham made a wise and generous truce to avoid rivalry and conflict; yes 4000 years ago… and here we are being given 15 seconds to try and avoid danger caused by rivalry and conflict… I am sure that many books can be written by tapping into the minds of all of us gathered in a crowded corridor in the hospital.

Today is another day and I am writing my reflections after experiencing three more “Tzeva Adom” “Color Red” alarms, while holding my grandchild in my arms and he is only two years old, but old enough to ask: Ma zeh? What is this?

P.S. Oh yes, I forgot to share with you one more thing: Last night after the above description, visiting hours ended and we left the hospital with Ziv our grandchild home. While we were walking out of the Hospital building, Ziv began to play in the parking lot with a little Bedouin 1.5 years old, when suddenly again the siren went off and again we had 15 seconds to be ushered to the safe area.

This time we were all ushered into a corridor of the Delivery Ward of the Hospital. There were no babies in little carts. This time we found ourselves in between dozens of women who were about to give birth, one of them was sitting in a wheel chair experiencing very strong contractions… This time we heard the explosions very close to us, people were just counting 1,2,3… 7. Yes 7 grad missiles were targeted to Beersheva, four of them fell in an open area, two of them were hit by our anti grad missile system “Iron Dome” and one hit a building injuring 7 people and killing one man, Yossi Shushan, (38) who happened to be there to pick up his 9 month pregnant wife… He will not be in the delivery ward where I happened to be in, at the very same moment he was killed…

I can only commend the behavior and bravery of every single person (who will most likely meet again), with whom we shared a few minutes that will remain with us for a life time…

Beersheva, Israel, August 2011


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