Miri Tamano had barely managed to shove her three boys into a bomb shelter and close the heavy blast door when a massive explosion shook her house.
Shaken but unharmed, she and her children huddled in the room, plunged into darkness, trying to keep calm.
“Mom, it hit our house,” one of her kids said, starting to cry.
What hit the Tamano’s Beersheba house at about 3:40 a.m. Wednesday morning was a Grad rocket, loaded with some 20 kilograms of explosives and shot from the Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Tamano’s ability to wake up, jump out of bed, rush to get her kids and get their sleepy bodies into the shelter before the bomb hit — all in under a minute — has been credited with saving their lives, and likely keeping hostilities in the restive region from snowballing out of hand.
The single mom and her sons, ages 8, 9, and 12, were all taken to the hospital and treated for anxiety, but were otherwise unharmed in the attack and have since been released
Speaking to the Hadashot news channel Thursday, Tamano said what happened had been “divine providence.”
“It was clearly a miracle,” she said from a Beersheba hotel room where the family has been living since their home was hit. “The whole of Israel saw that miracle.”
The missile blast utterly destroyed much of the family home, knocking over walls and devastating the second floor, where the children’s bedrooms were.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups both denied launching the rocket in a rare joint statement Wednesday, a claim Israel dismissed as it pounded the Strip with some 20 airstrikes in response, noting that the two groups were the only ones known to posses rockets powerful enough to reach Beersheba, some 40 kilometers from Gaza.
However, some experts have raised the possibility a lightning strike may have caused the rocket to launch, along with a second missile that crashed into the sea off the coast of the Tel Aviv area.
فيديو لحظة اطلاق الصاروخ من قطاع غزة pic.twitter.com/XHUDO0vwl1
— حسن اصليح | Hassan (@0598196013) October 17, 2018
The missile was the first to be shot at Beersheba since 2014 and Tamano, who had been fast asleep, said when she first heard the rocket siren she thought she was dreaming.
“Then I understood that it isn’t my imagination, and that it isn’t a dream, this is real,” she said.
She ran to wake her children and sent two of them downstairs to the home’s bomb shelter, a reinforced room built into many Israeli houses and apartments. Running to wake the third, she had to pull on his leg to wake him but eventually got him downstairs as well.
She had just managed to close the door when the whole house shook.
“We didn’t even manage to sit down and there was a mighty blast,” she told Hadashot.
Hugging the kids in the dark to calm them, she told them God was protecting them.
“I really didn’t understand the scale of the damage,” she said.
The border area has since calmed after a reported ad hoc ceasefire reached Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the high level security cabinet, which has the authority to launch wars, reportedly decided to take a wait-and-see approach rather than launch a wider offensive, amid growing pressure to put a halt to near daily unrest along the Gaza border.
Several analysts have noted that Israeli casualties likely would have pushed Israel to take more serious action against Gaza, which could have led to further rounds of reprisal attacks and may have spiraled into a larger conflict.
“I don’t feel like a heroine,” Tamano told Hadashot Thursday. “I think we are committed to protect. But I think that perhaps I was to be a messenger from God, to give a message, first of all to everyone listen to the instructions from the Home Front Command. If I hadn’t closed the door we all would have been hurt.”
A number of funds have been set up to help the Tamanos after Miri’s sister appealed to the public to help provide for the family, who lacked basic necessities.
As the victim of what Israel terms a terror attack, Tamano is eligible for assistance from a special fund managed by the property tax department of the Israel Tax Authority.
The department said Wednesday it would send officials to assess the damage to the home, and would transfer an initial sum of NIS 10,000 ($2,700) to the family within 24 hours. It also said it would cover the costs of the family’s hotel stay until new accommodations could be found.
Under Tax Authority compensation rules for terror victims, the government will fund the rebuilding of the Tamanos’ home, but the process will take months.
Shortly after Tamano issued the appeal, the Jewish Agency for Israel said it would hand the family a NIS 4,000 ($1,100) grant by the end of the day. The grant was donated Wednesday by the Jewish community of Montreal, Canada, to help the family cover their immediate needs.
The family is also eligible for a NIS 25,000 ($6,800) “recovery grant” from the agency’s Victims of Terror Fund, the organization said, but it was not immediately clear when the funds would be available.
After learning that one of her sons had lost his wallet with their team logo on it, the local Hapoel Beersheba soccer team outfitted all three boys with the team uniforms and has arranged for them to meet the players.