Three generations of Robert Wolf’s family miraculously survived this week after a rocket from the Gaza Strip destroyed their home near Tel Aviv.
The British-born Israeli remains deeply concerned about wife Susan, 59, daughter-in-law Yael and five-month-old granddaughter, Tamara, who are being treated in Kfar Saba’s Meir Medical Centre.
He told Jewish News: “Tamara needs to have shrapnel removed from her head under general anaesthetic. My wife also has shrapnel in her head, but that can’t be removed yet. The doctors are deciding how to deal with it.”
Yael, who shielded Tamara with her body, also has shrapnel lodged in her back, as well as various cuts and bruises.
The attack on a residential community in central Israel on Monday morning stunned the Israeli public and sparked a short but intense military confrontation between the IDF and Hamas.
Wolf, 60, from Portsmouth, and his wife, from Southgate, have lived in Israel since the 1980s. He runs a glass factory outside Tel Aviv.
Growing up in the UK, he said he had never considered making aliyah. Then a trip to Israel sparked his interest.
“I didn’t grow up in a Zionist environment. I took a cheap flight to Israel when I was 19 and thought I’d stay for six months. I worked on Kibbutz Geva [near Afula]. I decided to stay and serve in the army. After the army, I thought I might as well stick around.”
Robert met Susan on a trip back to the UK when his father died. Their two sons were born in London, their two daughters in Israel.
Despite the devastating loss of his home, Wolf said he feels “very lucky.” He adds: “Being alive and my family being alive is all that counts.”
He has no idea how and when he will be able to rebuild. “Ask me in a week, when things become clearer,” he said.
Wolf said he has been overwhelmed by the offers of help he has received from friends and strangers.
“I’ve been offered tremendous help from my friends and from the Israeli people. What’s important to know is that in times of trouble, Israelis – all types of Israelis – are behind us. My Druze, Arab and Jewish clients do not stop offering help. That’s been the most important part of this experience.”
Asked how British Jews can help his family, Wolf said he is not looking for personal assistance. “I want them to support Israel, the one country they can come to in times of trouble. Just wish us luck and send us good vibes. And the only message I would send to the savages that did this is: the people of Israel are going nowhere and eventually the civilians of Gaza will rise up and squash you. No backward savage regime survives forever. When I moved to Israel we had a population of three million. Now we are eight million. Think about that.”