From the Sderot Media Center
The Family That Shows Why There Needs to be a Naval Blockade on Gaza
by Jacob Shrybman and Anav Silverman
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.I find it strange that the world is quite silent about this child, yet screams in horror if a child in Gaza stubbs his or her toe. Why are the children of Gaza more precious to the world than Israeli children? Is it because Israeli children are Jewish with white skin?
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.
The rockets have not stopped:
Gaza terrorists attacked the Western Negev Wednesday morning with a Kassam rocket before workers arrived, but it heavily damaged a packing house that was knocked out of operation. Workers who had not yet arrived at work remained in their homes in the Sdot Negev area, south of Ashkelon.Once again I ask you, my truth seekers, to donate any amount you can to the Sderot Media Center. The funds that they raise go directly to the people of Sderot and the Western Negev. Just click here and follow the directions.
The explosion occurred around 4 a.m., seconds after the Color Red early-warning system shattered pre-dawn silence. The latest attack returned residents to the trauma of the constant spate of missiles explosions that have plagued Negev residents since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, in 2000.
No terrorist organization has taken responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket strike. Many of the packing house workers hurried to synagogue to recite the traditional prayer for their lives being saved from danger.
Last year’s Operation Cast Lead war against the terrorist infrastructure in Hamas-run Gaza severely reduced the number of attacks, but Hamas and allied terrorist groups have violated a number of declared ceasefire announcements.
More than 300 rockets and mortars have struck the Western Negev since the end of Cast Lead, and most of the attacks have been immediately followed by an IDF retaliatory strike. Most of the rockets have exploded in open fields, allowing a relatively calm atmosphere in foreign and mainstream Israeli media that ignore a large number of the terrorist attacks when no one is injured.
One major foreign news service reported this week that the Negev area has been "quiet" since the end of Cast Lead.
And please pray for the people of Sderot, for the peace that they deserve, and for the nation of Israel.