Residents of a central Israel community hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip recalled Monday that they weren’t sure they had heard a real air raid siren because an attack was so unexpected.
The attack triggered air raid sirens at approximately 5:20 a.m. throughout the Sharon and Emek Hefer regions north of Tel Aviv, the army said. Some residents of the region said they didn’t hear the alert. There were heavy thunderstorms throughout the region at the time.
Seven people were injured, one moderately, when the rocket landed in the community of Mishmeret, destroying a five-room home and causing damage to other structures in the area.
Yoni Wolf, a son from the family whose home was destroyed, told Hebrew-language media that he was “in shock” at what had happened.
“My brother was the one in charge during the incident, he is the one who woke up everyone in the night,” he said. “While my father went to get my sister from the other living area the rocket fell on the home. Some made it to the [family] bomb shelter, some didn’t.”
Many Israeli homes have a built-in reinforced room which is designed to provide protection against rocket and bomb attacks.
The rocket apparently landed in a corridor connecting two wings of the home, collapsing the roof and blowing out the windows. Debris covered the floor and the walls were pockmarked by shrapnel. Images from the site showed damage to other buildings and structures around it, including a hole punched into the side of a large gas tank.
Bar Fucher, 12, a neighbor who suffered cuts and scratches in the attack, described the moments as her family tried to scramble to safety.
“When the sirens started my father woke us up,” she told the Walla website. “Since we don’t have a bomb shelter we ran to our grandparents’ home but the door was locked,” she said.
The family was apparently still seeking safety when the rocket landed.
“The explosion was really loud, and the house filled with smoke, it was really scary,” she added.
Anat, a neighbor who lives near the home that was hit, told Walla that she didn’t believe the siren was a real alert until the explosion shook the community.
“I was shaking,” she said. “First I heard the siren and I was sure it was false and a mistake because I didn’t think for a moment that something like this could happen to us, in such a quiet place in the center of the country,” she said.
“Even after the boom — my whole body was shaking, I told myself it wasn’t real and couldn’t happen to us. I am lost for words, I hear all the time on the news that it happens in the south,” she added.
Ido, who lives next to the building that was hit, said that he didn’t even hear the air raid siren.
“I only heard the explosion,” he told Channel 13 news. “The first thing I felt was fear, the young children were really in a panic. We know the family, a good family, with children, these kind of things shouldn’t happen. We expect a response, so that something like this doesn’t pass quietly.”
Iris, a resident of the community, recalled how her husband managed to pull the son to safety a moment before the blast blew out the windows of their home.
“My youngest son heard the siren and woke us, and at first we didn’t understand what was going on,” she told Channel 12 news.
She explained how her husband told their youngest son to move away from the window, just in time.
“My husband pulled Nir away and a second after that the glass shattered,” she said.
Security officials were reportedly looking into why the siren was not heard across the Mishmeret community.
According to the military, the rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip, from where earlier this month two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv, in what was described at the time as an apparent “mistake” by the Hamas terror group.
The Iron Dome missile defense system did not appear to have been activated by the rocket attack. The military said it was still investigating the matter.
The Israeli military said it was investigating the source of the rocket attack.
There were no immediate reports of an Israeli military response but Palestinian media reported that terror groups in the Strip began evacuating their positions and bases ahead of the Israeli airstrikes that were expected in response to the rocket attack.