I never knew there were over two hundred hotels in Eilat. The kibbutzniks from Nirim, just north of Nir Oz, are at the Astral Palma. The residents of Nir Yitzhak, about twenty kilometers south of Nir Oz, are at the Caesar Premier. When a missile soared over Eilat one morning this week (from Yemen, they said), the red alert sent everyone down to the “reinforced living areas” in the hotel basements. Afterwards, counselors headed to the Red Sea hotel to be with the people from Kibbutz Nir Oz.
Trauma causes the stress hormone cortisol to spike, and can bring on severe dehydration. So I began giving out cups of water to everyone in the lobby. As I moved through the Red Sea, I saw a little boy–he looked about nine–alone in a dining room, sitting with a plate of sliced red pepper and bread covered in white cheese. Israeli breakfast. I walked over, but didn’t introduce myself–I just sat down and said, “My friend, you’ve gotta drink water, it’s really, really important.”
He took a cup of water and said, “The terrorists stole everything from our house, all our possessions and put it in their truck. In our safe room my father was trying to hold the door closed, there was a latch on top of the door and if we could just get the latch closed they wouldn’t be able to get in, but they shot through the latch, they shot through the door and my father got hit in the leg and blood was pouring out of my dog. They were throwing in smoke bombs and we couldn’t breathe. My father opened a window, otherwise we would’ve choked to death. My little sister and brother were there, they jumped out the window, and my father kept calling the police and they said the army will come, that’s their job.”
The soldiers came with armored buses, loaded everybody they could inside, and got the father to a hospital where his wound was taken care of. The boy said he asked a soldier if he could check on the dog and see if it was okay. “It was all covered in blood and they took it to a veterinarian–they had to amputate the tail.”
The boy got to go visit Mika on the moshav where she’s being boarded. He showed me bracelets he made for two of his friends who were kidnapped. He held up one skinny little wrist ringed with colored yarn: “To bring home my friend Yossi.” Also, his family was moving. Soon, he said, they’d be living in a high-rise apartment building in Carmei Gat, near Ashkelon. “Until they rebuild our kibbutz and then we’ll be able to go back home.”