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'When he hears the sirens, Ohad prays for the safety of the soldiers'
Photo: Neri Brenner
Disabled teen bound to fortified space
Single mother from Sderot keeps her wheelchair-bound son in fortified space until Gaza op ends, fearing she won't be able to get him to shelter in time
Efrat Hajbi, a single mother from Sderot, is forced to leave her wheelchair-bound son Ohad, 18, in the fortified space in their house, seeing as the process of taking him into and out of the room takes too much time.

 

Sderot has long been one of the most rocket-stricken cities in Israel's south, and ever since the IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defense has been under constant rocket fire.

 

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"Ohad has been staying in the fortified space since the IDF operation began and there he will stay until the operation ends," said Ohad's mother, who fears that Ohad will be forced to remain unsheltered in case he is too far from the fortified space.

 

"He doesn’t see his friends," Hajbi added; "he doesn’t play basketball, or ride his bike. The only exercise he gets is moving from his bed to his chair and vice versa."


"הוא היה רוצה לשחק בחוץ". אוהד חג'בי ואמו אפרת (צילום: נרי ברנר)

Efrat Hajbi with her son Ohad (Photo: Neri Brenner) 

 

The hardship manifests itself in everyday activities. Hajbi says that Ohad's shower does not last longer than a minute or two, in fear that an air raid siren will go off while he is in the shower – and out of the fortified room.

 

"The fortified space has become his bedroom; my eldest daughter and I sleep there at night on a mattress. During the day, Ohad eats there and watches TV."

 

Ohad does not say much, but it seems he understands what goes on around him. "When he hears the sirens," his mother says, "Ohad prays for the safety of the soldiers. He's afraid of the current state and when a siren starts, he yells 'fire, fire, boom, boom,' because he understands that we're in danger. He also calls out to me and my daughter, because he's concerned for our safety."

  

The Sderot Municipality and various organizations offer assistance to the family, but according to Hajbi, that is not enough. "Because of the state of things, everything is harder," she says. "This morning, Ohad tried to crawl out of the fortified space, trying to spend some time outdoors, but I told him to go back in – I'm really scared that I would have to carry him back into the room in case of Color Red siren."

 

 

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