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Days of Fear

Binyamin Rose, Kiryat Malachi, Ashkelon

The aim of the enemy’s rockets is becoming more accurate and their range has been extended — to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. At the same time,Israel’s is showing determination to fight back and the spirit of its people has never been stronger. The battle between Palestinian terror and the Jews in Israel enters a new and more dangerous phase. It’s a war of nerves, as much as anything else.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

warWith the due date approaching for what was to be her fourth child, Mirah Scharf and her husband Shmuel had just arrived back inIsraelfrom their posting inNew Delhi,India, where they run the Chabad House.

A moving van containing some of their belongings was still parked right downstairs from the fourth floor apartment they had leased on a short-term rental in Kiryat Malachi. The apartment had air and light, and unobstructed views of a freshly plowed wheat field and hothouses with gray screens and black roofing where cucumbers and onions are normally grown.  

When Hamas terrorists — 12 miles to the southwest in the Gaza Strip — fired missiles at Kiryat Malachi last Thursday morning, they robbed Mirah Scharf of her chance to give birth and turned her children into orphans.

She was one of three victims in the building felled in one barbaric act of terror. The missile tore a gaping hole through the top floor of the building, shattering a living room window and pounding the two top-floor apartments into a rubble of cinder block, fallen piles of concrete, and twisted shards of aluminum from the roll-up window shades.

The wail of the air raid sirens seconds before the attack gave residents just 30 seconds to head for shelter. The one which foretold impending doom was the second siren heard that morning in Kiryat Malachi. It was 8 a.m.

Yoni Menachem, who lives two buildings away, was already scrambling downstairs to his miklat when the missile struck, shaking the ground underneath him.

“I saw where it struck and I started running up the steps to see what happened,” said Menachem. “I ran up the steps and saw a young man covered in blood. When I stopped to help him, he said, ‘Go upstairs, there are others with worse injuries than mine.’ ”

Menachem first tried the door adjacent to the Scharf’s apartment. “The door was ajar but I couldn’t budge it. I peered inside and it looked like some cement had fallen and was blocking the door. So I ran into the second apartment and I saw blood all over and saw a woman dead on the floor.”

Mrs. Scharf’s husband, Reb Shmuel, was hospitalized with moderate to serious injuries to his head and limbs; their four-year old son and two-year-old daughter were also hospitalized.

Rami Kaeson, who has lived in Kiryat Malachi for eight years, was in the middle of Shacharis at a nearby shul when he heard the explosion. “I left after davening to see what happened,” says Kaeson.

As the crowd swelled, an ambulance and firefighting crew pulled up, along with an official fromIsrael’s civil defense corps — the Home Front Command — who ordered the crowd dispersed.

“He told us not to stand around,” said Kaeson. “He said thatIranhas satellites trained on us and if they see a crowd, they might fire a missile at us.”

The attack claimed two other victims, IDF veteran Aharon Smadja, 49, and Itzik Amsalem, 24. Smadja was well-known in Kiryat Malachi for his falafel stand, which he closed a few years ago after suffering a heart attack, so he could spend his time learning Torah instead. After securing his own family in the relatively safe stairwell, he ran up to the Scharf’s apartment to help them down with their children, when the missile exploded. He leaves behind his wife, twin sons, and an 8-month old daughter. Amsalem, survived by his parents and five siblings, worked forBezeq,Israel’s major telephone provider.


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