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“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 U.S. 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.”
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.
Jacob Shrybman is the Assistant Director and Anav Silverman is the International Correspondent of the Sderot Media Center, www.SderotMedia.org.il. Their work has been published in The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, and USA Today. They have appeared on international television and radio stations such as BBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, and more.
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