How Nigerian Footballer Was Nearly Killed By Hamas Rocket
That HIbezitoit His Home In Israel
Israel-based Nigerian footballer, Ibezito Ogbonna has said
he is lucky to be alive after his apartment in the Israeli
city of Ashdod was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza last
Ogbonna, who was a former under-23 striker was at home
with his wife and two young daughters when the building
suffered a direct hit, BBC Sports Africa reports.
The 38-year-old, who won the Israeli Cup with Hapoel Tel
Aviv in 2006 and 2007, was injured from the impact of the
rocket and taken to hospital but his family were unhurt.
The incident was part of a recent 11-day escalation in
violence between Israel and Gaza.
Ogbonna was quoted as saying, “I am extremely lucky to
be alive after this rocket was fired and it’s third time lucky
for me after being involved in a car crash and a horrible
robbery incident in Nigeria.
“We were all aware of the attempt [possible strike] and
we always get the warning signs about possible missiles.
We often hear sirens echo across the city’s streets which
tends to prompt people to rush to a shelter.
“On this day I was having breakfast and I heard the
wailing siren. Normally, we’d run to the shelter because
every house has its own shelter. I felt it’s the normal
warning, but within seconds it turned out to be an unlucky
day for me.
“I heard the loud bang of the rocket and felt the
immediate impact, I was thrown into the air and it took
me from my dining room to my living room.
“I could see glasses and other objects flying around me. I
hit the ground, I stood up to look around for my family.
They were very lucky too, my wife had taken cover with
my daughters, I think one of the doors landed on her.
“I could see the whole building was gone. We are talking
about a four-storey building with about 30 people. The
security doors between my kitchen and living room ripped
out and everything totally wrecked.
“Cars were smashed and it was then I realised I had a cut
and my knee was hurting badly before the paramedics
took me in an ambulance to the hospital.
“I was in the hospital for a few hours. I was treated and
had different tests just to check that everything was okay
with me. They weren’t sure I was fine considering what
He continued, “It’s difficult to explain the impact of what I
saw. Coming out of this alive was a complete miracle. We
are talking about the same attack that has left several
people badly wounded.
“We’ve had casualties since this thing started, but you are
just grateful to be alive and not listed among the dead.
“A lot of families have been left homeless with their
possessions destroyed and a place they’ve always called
With no home to return to, the Ogbonnas and 13 other
families are now staying at a hotel as the Israeli
government look to resettle them.
But the former Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa striker is still
remembered fondly by fans of Hapoel Tel Aviv, despite
leaving the club 14 years ago.
After scoring 40 goals in 132 appearances for Israel’s
second most successful side, there is a renewed bond
being forged as the club’s supporters have launched a
fund-raising campaign to help him get back on his feet.
“Hapoel Tel Aviv fans have been incredibly amazing,
without my knowledge they had started a fundraising to
help support me,” Ogbonna added.
“As soon as the news broke that my apartment was hit,
they started reaching out and calling my phone. I didn’t
ask them for anything yet they were offering to help.
“I remember one of them got my contact and I think he
put it out on the fan page for other supporters to reach
out. Messages of love, prayers and unbelievable support
from a club I left over a decade ago.
“Some were telling me to come over to theirs if I had no
place to stay. They’ve gone out to buy stuff and clothes
for me and my family.
“I was getting deliveries of different things at the hotel
without even knowing about it. I don’t even know these
guys. It’s a massive love and I can’t thank them enough.
“It’s another proof that wherever you find yourself as a
footballer or whatever you do. Be a good person and
respect everyone because you never know when life will
bring you back again.”
Despite his experience, Ogbonna, who now has Israeli
citizenship, however, said Israel is a safe place. He
remains confident that Israel will continue to attract talent
from Africa and his native country.
He said: “Israel is still a safe place and despite what has
happened here, I believe African players will continue to
come to this beautiful country.
“A lot of Nigerians have made a name for themselves
playing here and I hope we can get more talented players
to come over here. One thing I know is that life will return
to normal and everyone will continue to feel safe.
“The government here will continue to ensure the safety of
everyone on this great nation and personally, I always feel
safer here than anywhere else in the world.”