Gaza Rocket Fire at Tel Aviv Claims the Life of a 55-year-old Man 'Thrown Into the Street'

Relatives of Gershon Franco, 'a modest man who had fallen on hard times,' harshly criticize the mayor after he blamed the man for not taking cover during an incoming rocket barrage

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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A car in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan after a rocket sharpnel had hit it, yesterday.
A car in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan after a rocket sharpnel had hit it, yesterday. Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Gershon Franco, 55, was the tenth Israeli fatality following Gaza rocket fire to the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on Saturday. Franco was a disabled cancer patient who lived alone and in poverty. Over the past five years, he lost his mother, father, and younger sister – all to cancer.

Since the beginning of the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has become the heaviest flare-up since 2014 Gaza War, 10 Israelis and at least 188 Gazans were killed as some 3,000 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel amid ongoing Israeli airstrikes on the enclave.

Franco’s sister and brother-in-law said that he lived rough over the past years, until recently friends found lodging for him next to a restaurant he worked at – a ground-floor shack without a fortified safe room.

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“Gershon was a modest man who had fallen on hard times,” said his brother-in-law, Daniel. “He went to all the authorities and asked for help, but no one paid attention to him or helped him. He was thrown into the street.”

“We helped him as much as we could. Had the welfare services helped us, what occurred wouldn’t have happened.” According to the brother-in-law, Franco was a cancer patient with a 100-percent disability rating who lived off of welfare payments.

Franco would have been even worse off had friends not helped him out, Daniel added.

On Saturday, before Franco was identified, Ramat Gan Mayor Carmel Shama Hacohen said that the dead man had not followed public safety orders and added that the area has public shelters.

Tel Aviv District police commander Maj. Gen. Amichai Eshed similarly said that “if he had lay down on the floor, the damage would have been less significant.” The relatives who spoke with Haaretz on Sunday sharply criticized these remarks, noting that Franco was a disabled man who lived alone without assistance, and could not have protected himself better under the circumstances.

Franco was the tenth Israeli to be killed since the beginning of the ongoing round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. The others were five-year-old Ido Avigail; Nadine Awwad, 16, and her father Khalil, 50; 21-year-old Omer Tabib; Soumya Santhosh, 32; Leah Yom Tov, 63; Orly Liron, 52; Nella Gurevich, 57; and an 87-year-old woman whose name was not made public.

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