After night in bomb shelter, family wakes up to discover porch hit by rocket

Naomi Fletcher saw pottery scattered on lawn and blamed the cats; then she saw the projectile and a yawning meter-wide hole

An Israeli officer officers inspects the scene where a mortar fire from the Gaza Strip hit a home at a kibbutz in southern Israel, Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli officer officers inspects the scene where a mortar fire from the Gaza Strip hit a home at a kibbutz in southern Israel, Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Israeli family near the Gaza border awoke on Wednesday morning to discover their porch had suffered a direct hit from a rocket fired from the coastal enclave.

Naomi and Roni Fletcher had spent the night in the fortified room of their home in the Eshkol region. When they stepped into their garden in the morning, they found a crater from a rocket that caused significant damage to a shed adjacent to the house, Naomi Fletcher told Hadashot television.

The rocket impact caused a meter-wide hole in the floor and destroyed nearby garden furniture.

“Sometime overnight a rocket apparently fell at my house,” she said. “My husband and I were home without the kids. At first I went to sleep in my bed, next to where the rocket fell.”

“When the [rocket alert] siren went off at 11 p.m., my husband said we weren’t going to be able to sleep if we had to wake up every time [a rocket was launched from Gaza], so we went to sleep in the secure room,” she added.

Crater outside home near Gaza border caused by rocket fired from coastal enclave on May 30, 2018. (Screen capture: Hadashot news/Eshkol Regional Council)

Fletcher told the TV station that when she opened the door at 6:45 a.m. and saw broken pottery scattered on the lawn, she initially thought that cats had caused the damage. She then saw the remains of a rocket and the crater and realized what had happened.

Naomi Fletcher (l) a resident of Eshkol near the Gaza border whose porch was hit by a rocket fired from the coastal enclave on May 30, 2018. (Screen capture: Hadashot news)

“When I got up I wanted to see what was happening outside because I thought the cats had caused damage. Then I saw a pipe stuck in the ground and understood that something had landed here,” she said.

Also overnight, fragments of a rocket that had apparently been intercepted by the Iron Dome landed in a sports facility in Netivot, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Gaza border. This was the first time a rocket from Gaza had gone that far since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

The shards of the projectile caused light damage to a number of structures, but no injuries. Several people, who were close by at the time, were said to have suffered a panic attack.

A video, shared by Channel 10 news on social media, showed a cloud of smoke coming out of the area following the impact.

Over the course of 22 hours, from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, sirens were triggered at least 166 times in southern Israel, according to the IDF Home Front Command, by mortar fire, rockets or, in some cases, heavy machine gun fire.

The military has yet to release a final tally for the number of projectiles fired at southern Israel from Gaza, but it is likely to approach 200.

From the end of the 2014 Gaza war until Tuesday, approximately 80 projectiles were fired from Gaza into Israel, according to Israeli figures.

Despite the attacks, schools in the region opened on schedule Wednesday morning.

The Eshkol Regional Council said that while schools were operating as usual, an increased number of security personnel were deployed in the area and in accordance with Education Ministry instructions, no outside activities were held within 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) from the Gaza border.

All restrictions were lifted on Gaza periphery residents on Wednesday at 6 p.m., after a 12-hour respite in rocket fire and as an informal ceasefire appeared to stick.

Late Tuesday, Israeli warplanes hit some 25 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in a second wave of retaliatory strikes, the army said.

The military said fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft bombed a Hamas drone facility, rocket manufacturing plant, advanced weapons depot, military compounds, training camps and weapons factories.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, early Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired at least 50 rockets and mortars into southern Israel on Tuesday, the largest barrage since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Video from Gaza showed large explosions rocking the area as aircraft were heard roaring overhead.

It was the second round of strikes carried out by the IDF in response to the mortar and rocket fire from Gaza. Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft targeted approximately 40 positions in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.

Above: Israeli aircraft strike Hamas targets in Gaza overnight Wednesday.

Earlier, Hamas and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad released a joint statement claiming responsibility for the dozens of rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel throughout the day.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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