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For the entire eight years that the Gigis - Alice, 71, and Shlomo, 76 - lived in Sderot under the threat of rocket attacks, they refused to leave town. They saw no sense, they said, in leaving for a few days and coming back. The Qassams were not going to stop in any case, the couple believed.

However, following the escalation last weekend, their youngest son managed to persuade them to come stay with him in Givatayim, near Tel Aviv, and "relax a little from the daily routine of Qassams," as he put it.

Two days later, at 6 A.M. yesterday, a Qassam hit their yard, wreaking havoc in the home they had lived in for 30 years.

"Just the thought of what would have happened if they had stayed in the house is shocking," their daughter, Ruthie Ben-Abu, said.

"A miracle happened to us," Alice Gigi said.

Last year a rocket hit the home of the Gigis' son, the eldest of their four children. He then moved to Ashkelon, where he now has been dealing with the threat of Grad missiles for the past few days.

Another son moved to Kibbutz Ruhama, east of Sderot. Ruthie is the only child left in Sderot.

"I am torn between what I want and my financial ability to do it. It isn't easy to leave the place where I grew up and spent my whole life," Ruthie said.