On January 15, Lior Ben Schimmel, 5, was at her neighbor’s house playing with their children when the Kassam attack occurred. She was moderately injured.
By Yerucham Mandola
In all of his 34 years of working for MDA, Chaim Ben Schimmel, who works in the MDA Sderot station, never imagined that one day he would have to treat one of the members of his family. But, unfortunately, one of the Kassams fired yesterday, moderately injured his granddaughter Lior, a wonderful 5-year-old, who was playing with a neighbor’s son in a room on the upper floor of their house, when a Kassam directly hit it. The two children, who are used to running to the reinforced room as soon as the “Red Color” alert is sounded, did not manage to escape from the fragments of the Kassam which hit them while running for shelter.
Chaim, who was at that very time in the MDA Sderot station, reinforcing the teams there, as he usually does when the level of alert in MDA has been raised, received a phone call from his son Yaron, telling him that Lior had been injured. “I immediately got in an ambulance and drove quickly to the place; the journey which usually takes a few minutes seemed to take forever, and during the journey I feared the worst,” recalls Chaim about the incident.
Chaim, who has lived in the city of Sderot for the past 56 years, since he came to live in Israel at the age of one year, has experienced tens if not hundreds of Kassam volleys, and in the last seven years alone he has treated tens of Sderot inhabitants, some of whom are his neighbours and friends, and has seen many very difficult scenes. However, all this did not prepare him for the moment, yesterday, when he met up with his beloved granddaughter, covered in blood and white dust and parts of bricks and roof tiles, with fragments of the Kassam sticking out of all parts of her body.
“I began to wash her face, to clean her up to see where she was injured. I bandaged the wounds on her legs and hands and we transferred her on the gurney to the ambulance” says Chaim who transported his granddaughter to Barzilai Hospital and has not left her bedside since. “I just cannot leave her” says Chaim. “She and all the others were saved by a miracle, they got their lives back as a present, the total destruction of the top floor which was completely destroyed, shows the force of the tremendous explosion there.” Lior had tens of X-rays all over her body, eye tests, surgical, orthopedic and ear, nose and throat tests and underwent a series of operations to take out the splinters, and was put in plaster on her hand and leg to mend the breaks.
Chaim tells that he always encourages his wife, his four children and his grandchildren, saying everything will be OK, and as a founder of the city he does not see himself or any of them leaving the place. “As a founder of the city, I have explained to my family and friends that everything will be alright, and we shall continue to live here and carry on with our lives as in the past; I love my work in MDA.”
Chaim recounts that Lior was having psychological treatment because of her fear of the Kassams and he continuously tried to encourage her.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time an MDA employee in Sderot has seen the evil injury of a Kassam just from the side of the one treating the injured, but also from the side of one injured. Yossi Cohen, Chaim’s co-worker these past 30 years, who lives in Sderot, was two years ago called to treat his daughter, son in law and baby grandson, who was then 7 months old, who were injured by a Kassam missile, in their home on Moshav Karmiya.
The one who was the most badly injured was the baby. “Two years ago my grandson was hurt by a Kassam missile falling in Karmiya. He suffered a head injury and had to have two operations on his head to reconstruct his skull and a permanent drain was placed in his head. The moment of the injury is not the end of the story, it lasts one’s whole life.
I have been living in Sderot for over 50 years, ever since I was a year and a half old in the transit camp, and I know everyone by name, even the children and their families. Every person injured in Sderot hurts me a bit, also those suffering from fear and panic attacks – I know what they are going through. These days,” adds Cohen, “are very difficult ones. However, as long as I am doing a shift I push it all to one side. I go to work, and do my job properly. MDA is my home. I believe and know, as is written in the song, that will shall see better days than these."