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Family of man who died running to rocket shelter wants terror victim designation

The family of an Israeli man who suffered a deadly heart attack while heading to a bomb shelter during an air raid siren in the recent escalation with Gaza wants the state to officially recognize him as a victim of the conflict.

No Israelis were killed or suffered severe wounds as a direct result of rocket fire by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Numerous people were moderately hurt while seeking shelter or were treated for shock brought on by the barrages from the Gaza Strip.

Citing neighbors, relatives of Shlomo Atias, 60, said he collapsed Saturday while heading to the shelter of the apartment building where he lived in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but were unable to.

“They said he was on the way to the shelter,” his brother Yuval Atias told the Kan public broadcaster on Thursday, explaining that there was only one reinforced room for the entire apartment building.

He said the family has not been contacted by the municipality or state authorities.

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Asked if it was true to say no one was killed in the fighting, a campaign the IDF called Operation Breaking Dawn, Yuval Atias responded, “that’s a lie,” saying the neighbors and others know what happened.

A painted mini-shelter outside of an apartment building in Ashkelon, August 7, 2022. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/The Times of Israel)

“He went down [to the shelter] while [the fighting] was happening… He was near the shelter,” Yuval Atias said.

“If this happened to him during a thing like this, why shouldn’t he be recognized [as a terror victim],” the brother added, a designation that would grant the family compensation. “They recognize everyone, why not him? They have to recognize him.”

The fighting in Gaza began Friday, when Israel launched airstrikes that killed a top Islamic Jihad commander after days of threats by the terror group following the arrest of its West Bank leader. The IDF also killed another PIJ commander during the conflict, which saw the Iran-backed organization fire over 1,000 rockets at Israel before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect Sunday night.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says 48 people were killed, among them 17 children and four women, in the three days of fighting. Israel has said as many as 16 people might have been killed by rockets misfired by Palestinian terrorists that landed short inside Gaza.