Amid the rain of rockets and death, a nation mourns one little boy

The youngest victim of Hamas rockets was Ido Avigail, just five years old


As Israel’s death toll rose this week, the IDF struck targets across Gaza, convinced that the damage inflicted on Hamas will deter it from further rounds of violence for several years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have “received blows that they did not expect.” He stated: “I have no doubt we set them back by years.”

The youngest victim of Hamas rockets was Ido Avigail, just five years old — laid to rest at a funeral that was disrupted by rocket alarms, apparently caused by fire intentionally timed and directed to have this effect.

With tears streaming down his face, father Assaf said at the funeral, “I want to ask your forgiveness. I am sorry that I wasn’t able to protect you... I’m sorry that the shard hit you instead of me.”

While Israel’s main motivation is deterrence, Mr Netanyahu reportedly told foreign diplomats in a briefing on Wednesday that it was only one of two options. He was quoted saying that conquering Gaza is an “open possibility”.

As of press time, 12 people had died on the Israeli side in the ongoing violence, which has seen almost 4,000 rockets fired towards Israel, most of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

The most devastating attack this week took place close to the Gaza border, at a busy Israeli agricultural packing house. Two people were killed, both of them Thai nationals who were spending a stint working in Israel, and ten people were injured.

Paramedic Dani Shmuel told the JC that he had arrived at a “harrowing scene,” and recalled the set of “difficult and sad decisions” he had to make regarding who to treat first, given that so many people were hurt.

Rockets have caused significant damage. One slammed through the wall of a synagogue in Ashkelon on Sunday, causing damage close to the ark.

Israel has faced ongoing domestic riots and acts of violence, instigated by both Arab and Jewish extremists. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the JC that Jewish violence, which was flagged up by leaders last week as a notable concern, has now largely been brought under control and most of the 1,050 arrests involved Arab citizens.

The rocket barrage started on May 10, with Hamas claiming it was triggered by Palestinian grievances in Jerusalem. The escalation between Gaza militants and Israel has prompted violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank and unrest close to the Lebanon-Israel border.

Israel has pounded hard at Gaza targets, using hundreds of warplanes to carry out intense attacks, many of them concentrated on Hamas’ huge network of tunnels underneath Gaza, which is a central part of its terror infrastructure. Other key targets have been rocket launchers, intelligence centers and the homes of important Hamas leaders.

According to Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza, at least 227 people have been killed there as a result of IDF strikes. Israel says that many of them were militants, and argues that it tries hard to protect civilians but Hamas put them at risk by fighting from residential areas. Criticism of Israel for failing to protect civilians is “absurd and unjust and untrue,” Mr Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

The IDF has also claimed that at least eight deaths — those of members if a single family at the start of fighting — were caused by a misfired Gaza rocket.

The most controversial Israeli strike so far targeted a high-rise building which Israel said was selected because it housed “Hamas intelligence assets.”

It contained homes and offices, including those of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera, promoting widespread criticism, including a statement by AP’s President and CEO, Gary Pruitt. He confirmed that warning of the strike was received, but declared himself “shocked and horrified.”

Mr Netanyahu said that the strike was “perfectly legitimate”, as civilians were given time to evacuate and the IDF insists that there were Hamas targets there.

As of press time, both Israel and Hamas were responding cooly to international pressure for a ceasefire. The White House was demanding de-escalation but Mr Netanyahu said there was no timeframe for ending the operation.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive