The Strong Hearts of Israel’s City of Angels: Kiryat Malachi’s Residents React to Rocket Attacks and Fatalities

November 16, 2012 3:13 am 0 comments

Memorial candles lit for Kiryat Malachi victims this evening in the apartment building where they were killed by a Gaza rocket. Photo: Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency.

It’s Thursday evening in Kiryat Malachi and the city of nearly 21,000 residents is strangely quiet. The usually busy city center is empty of people—most of the stores and restaurants have been shut down. There are no high school students loitering around, and no elderly folks smoking hooka or drinking black coffee in the kiosks.  No music blasting anywhere. Signs that indicate a recent rocket attack has occurred.

Earlier in the morning, a Gaza rocket slammed into the city, hitting an apartment building and killing three civilians fleeing for cover in the stairwell of their building.

The effects of that rocket strike on the city were felt hours later. A pregnant woman with her husband could be seen sitting outside of their apartment building, listening to the news on their car radio. “I’m not going to be able to run down three flights of stairs every time the rocket siren goes off,” she explained to Tazpit News Agency. “I told my husband that we’re sitting outside near the shelter for the rest of the evening.”

Further down the street, Moshe Zakuto, has just arrived home after a long day of work. He and his wife, Juliet have been living in Kiryat Malachi for over 50 years. “We will never leave our home here,” said Zakuto, who originally immigrated to Israel from Istanbul in 1961. “We have nowhere to go and even if leaving was an option, we wouldn’t do it,” he says.

There are three generations of Zakutos living in Kiryat Malachi. Moshe and Juliet also have grandchildren who live in the city. “I came to Israel when I was 17 and I served in the army,” Zakuto says proudly. “All my children have served, and so have my grandkids.”

“We love this country, and we love this land,” adds Juliet, originally from Fez, Morocco. “The rockets will never scare us away.”

Juliet admits that she takes a very rational approach to the rocket attacks. “My kids are more worried than I am,” she explains with a smile. “I know that some people get more hysterical and rightly so in response to a rocket attack. But I believe that we will get through this difficult period, and I hope– without too much trauma to people’s souls.”

But about four blocks away from the Zakuto’s home, for the inhabitants living in the apartment building that was struck by the rocket earlier, the reality looks bleaker.

Entering the apartment building, six memorial candles can be seen lit at the bottom of the stairwell, lit in memory of the three residents who were killed trying to take cover from the rocket as the siren sounded. The victims included a 25-year old mother about to give birth, Mirah Scharf. A Chabad outreach emissary in India, Mirah left behind her husband, who was wounded by shrapnel in his head, and three young children including their four-year-old son who was also injured in  the rocket attack. The two other victims were Ahron Smadja, 49, who also left behind three young children and 24-year-old Yitzchak Amsalem.  In addition to the fatalities, two people were seriously injured and two infants sustained light wounds.

For neighbor Chana Spektor, a mother of three children, who only a year ago moved to Kiryat Malachi from the Ukraine with her husband, where the couple served as Chabad emissaries, the rocket attack “was shocking and terrifying.”

“I could never imagine that life in Kiryat Malachi would be so dangerous,” Spektor told Tazpit News Agency, still in shock. “When I saw the bleeding baby rushed to the ambulance, only then did I realize the extent of the attack.”

“We heard the siren and stayed in the apartment,” explained Spektor. “Our building is full of large families with children and many them came into our apartment when they heard the siren. The entire building shook and glass shattered all over.”

“I can’t believe this happened a week before my son’s bar mitzvah,” she further adds. “All the invitations that I was supposed to send out today just flew everywhere and now I can’t find them.”

One of the most frustrating elements of the current escalation for Spektor has been the international response. “Russia strongly condemned Israel for its defensive operation in Gaza today, but had little to say to Hamas,” she said.

“We are trying to survive here,” Spektor emphasizes. “But I realize that if you don’t actually come to Israel and see the impact of these rockets, you can’t understand our reality. That’s why Putin makes those remarks.”

As I make my way back down the stairs of the heavily damaged building, an elderly man leaves his apartment and walks slowly down the blood-stained stairs. He looks sadly at the memorial candles at the bottom, and whispers a few words, and then continues on to the synagogue to pray. Meanwhile, outside the apartment building, soldiers, security personnel and local Israeli press continue their activities, as tired residents in the city prepare for a long night ahead.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.