* The testimonies were taken by Noam Raz on 17 Nov. '12, at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel in central Israel, to which young people from the Shikma School were moved for the duration of the Pillar of Defense campaign.
On 28 July 2006, two 8-year-old children from Kibbutz Zikim were injured by a Qassam rocket. This week, six years later, the now teenagers described the incident to B’Tselem, speaking of the scars it left and of growing up in the shadow of the Qassam rockets:
Tzlil Machleb, a 15-year-old boy from Zikim: It happened during summer vacation. I was 8 years old and in third grade. We were at the children’s house playing Frisbee outside. Suddenly there was a "Code Red" Alert. Everyone hid behind trees but I ran by myself in another direction; maybe it was the stress. I looked up at the sky and saw the Qassam coming toward me. I was able to get behind one of the trees and then the rocket fell and I was injured in the leg by shrapnel. My friend Yarden was also wounded by shrapnel, in his back. Some of our friends suffered trauma.
There was one adult with us at the time, our counselor. My parents arrived soon afterward. They were stressed, but they tried to hide it.
Somebody who knew first aid treated us on the spot and then an ambulance took us to the hospital.
Liat Yishai, a 14-year-old girl from Zikim: On the day Tzlil and Yarden were injured, I was in Ashkelon with my dad. We heard on the radio that a rocket had fallen at Zikim and that there were injuries. I felt stressed. I didn’t know who had been injured. We returned to the kibbutz and got to the scene. This was about 20 minutes after it happened. I saw my friends all stressed out and in shock. Some of the kids walked around with their hands on their ears because their ears rang from the Qassam's noise. I saw Tzlil sitting on a chair while they treated him. Yarden had shrapnel in his back and people were really hysterical. The whole kibbutz was there and a lot of people were crying.
Yotam Merhav, a 14-year-old from Zikim: I was at the incident in which Tzlil and Yarden were injured. We were in third grade and were playing Frisbee on the grass. I saw the Qassam in the air, flying toward us. No one knew what to do. We didn’t know whether to run or to stay where we were. You don’t know if it’s going to fall near you or not. We had about three or four seconds to respond and we simply began to run. There was a shelter not far away, but in those few seconds I never remembered it was there. Everyone ran instinctively. The Qassam fell right next to us. I saw a cloud of smoke. It was really scary. Some kids started crying, and some were in shock. Right after the "boom", a lot of people came running from their houses to help us. I wasn’t injured myself, not by shock or physically. It was hard but I was functioning okay. But everyone who was there had some sort of trauma.
After it happened, we had a few meetings to talk about it. I don’t really remember; we were little. Sometimes I had flashbacks and remembered exactly what happened and sometimes I imagined it. I didn’t have nightmares because of it.
Since then there were a lot more incidents in which Qassam rockets fell on the kibbutz and close to my house. I don’t really get upset by it anymore; I was born into this reality. When there’s a long period, a few months, without anything happening, you feel that it’s not the same. You are so much within this reality that when there is quiet, it feels different. It’s obviously good, but it feels strange. The people living in Gaza are bearing traumas like ours, or even worse. They don’t deserve it. We try to hurt the people who hurt us; innocent people should not be hurt.