The most gut-wrenching moment was 8-year-old Maria caressing the forehead of her older brother, Yossi, while he was lying wounded on the floor of the supermarket. There was no screaming, no panic, and no crying.
Just like any other 10-year-old boy who wants his mother at his side during tough times, he asked where she was, but realized that at that moment mom is not around. And Yossi, despite the Qassam shrapnel that was lodged in his shoulder, the blood around him, and the incredible pain, maintained incomprehensible restraint. He merely muttered that his shoulder hurts, and his little sister, just like a kind nurse, kept on caressing him.
He realized that only his little sister is near him, and as always he must protect her, so he drew on some incredible strength, chocked back the tears, and kept the pain inside him; a child hero who a minute earlier was still having fun, just like other children anywhere else in the world. He went to play soccer, after leaving his school bag at home.
So banal, so taken for granted anywhere else, yet so dangerous in Sderot.
An end to innocenceA child who attempted to live the routine life of a normal childhood in the midst of an abnormal and never-ending war routine almost paid by losing his arm. A child who, because of a rocket, shifted from the playground next to his home to the adult world, and there he learned on his flesh how painful hatred can be.
It was as if the look in the eyes of the wounded Yossi and Maria calming him down on the floor of the supermarket said: We knew that eventually it will hit us too.
How many “Color Red” alert scenarios went through their heads, how many times did they imagine the possibility that they will be wounded, and what it would be like, and what they would do? Did Yossi wonder whether he would lose his leg, just like the 8-year-old Osher Twito, who was wounded only two and a half weeks ago and will no longer be able to play soccer?
How many nightmares about death filled the nights of those two children? Did they talk to each other about their anxieties, or did they keep the fears to themselves?
A 10-year-old boy should not be a wounded hero, and it is completely unnecessary for an 8-year-old girl to see her brother bleeding. On Monday, a Qassam rocket wrested away the innocence and put and end to the childhood of Yossi and Maria, Sderot’s war children.