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Amidst Rocket Debris, 88-year-old Widower Intends to Rebuild Home in Israel's Ashkelon

An Israeli flag flutters atop the house of Uri Kimhi, 88, after it was hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip during the recent Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Ashkelon, Israel. (Reuters)

An Israeli flag flutters atop the house of Uri Kimhi, 88, after it was hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip during the recent Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Ashkelon, Israel. (Reuters)

Uri Kimhi is a retired farmer, a veteran of three Israeli-Arab wars and a long-time resident of Ashkelon, which, at 43 km from Gaza, has often come under rocket fire.

After the hostilities with Gaza broke out, 88-year-old Uri Kimhi gave up on watching television from his favourite couch, instead keeping within hobbling distance of the bomb shelter in his home.

That saved the Israeli widower when a Palestinian rocket struck on May 12, reducing his living room to rubble. A neighbour who rushed in, yelling "You okay, Uri?" and fearing the worst, found Kimhi smiling amid the dust and debris.

"There was pressure on the (bomb shelter) door, and flames managed to get through," Kimhi later told Reuters TV. "I wasn't nervous because I've heard a lot of explosions in my life."

Bowed by age and walking with a cane, Kimhi is a retired farmer, a veteran of three Israeli-Arab wars and a long-time resident of Ashkelon, which, at 43 km (26 miles) from Gaza, has often come under rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

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Though unimpressed with Friday's Egyptian-mediated halt to the worst Israeli-Palestinian fighting in years, he was upbeat about the future for himself and his family.

"I don't believe in the ceasefire, but I will go back," Kimhi said. "The house that was destroyed by the rocket will be rebuilt and we will continue living in this house until we reach the age of 120."

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