With Every Siren, Sderot Boy Improves Shrapnel Collection

Yinon Tubi, 10, hurries to rocket landing sites, seeking to expand his collection that includes dozens of fragments.

While children in the center of the country are going to the movies or playing soccer, 10-year-old Yinon Tubi of Sderot is engaging in a slightly different hobby: He goes anywhere a Qassam rocket falls and collects the shrapnel.

Whenever the warning siren sounds, he sees a chance to expand his collection, which already includes dozens of fragments. He usually reaches the landing sites immediately after the police and ambulance crews - sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.

Yinon, who studies at a local religious school, is intensely curious. He asks a lot of questions about the situation, and according to his parents, his grasp of it is far beyond his years.

According to Yinon, he collects shrapnel "so I'll have a souvenir to show my children, and even my grandchildren, what distress I, my family and all of Sderot's residents lived through." He has shrapnel from every part of the city and knows exactly which streets have been hit before and which are first-time victims.

Don't be fooled: He goes weak with fear whenever the alert sounds, just like every other child in Sderot. And when the beeper installed in his house by the Home Front Command went off on Tuesday, he ran for shelter just like everyone else.

But as soon as the explosion sounded, he hastened to ask the visiting journalist: "Where did the Qassam fall? You have to find out for me."

Yinon's parents moved to Sderot more than 10 years ago. His father, Shilav, teaches at the local hesder yeshiva, which combines Torah study with army service. His mother, Orit, is a guidance counselor, but is on sabbatical this year.

Orit offers a different explanation of Yinon's hobby. "Perhaps that is how he deals with the fear and terror of the Qassams that have been falling on the city for eight years now," she said. "I think the collection of shrapnel in his room is his way of overcoming his fears."

Shilav concurs.

"Psychologically, I'm not worried," he said. "But I try to restrain him on this issue. He doesn't endanger himself; he goes only after the Qassam has landed. I worry about Yinon, but it's within reason, because I trust him."

The Tubis have six children. Yinon is the eldest; the youngest was born two months ago. At night, they all sleep on mattresses in the house's reinforced room. They have no intention of leaving the city, though some Sderot residents have.

"We mustn't give in," said Shilav. "They won't break us. Our victory over this terror is the fact that we're staying in the city, despite the difficult conditions."

But after returning from yet another collecting expedition, following a hail of Qassams that wounded one person, Yinon admitted: "Today, I was a little afraid. I was afraid because they sometimes fire one Qassam at the city and then afterward fire again at the same place on purpose, to hit the people who come to evacuate and help [the wounded]."