It‘s war. With a massive rocket jump on Tel Aviv and its surroundings, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have called upon Israel’s wrath, which will resurrect. According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the terror groups will pay a ‘high price’. “The blood is on their hands.”
Never before has Israel‘s commercial capital been so heavily attacked. Shortly after the unprecedented salvo of more than 130 missiles was deployed, people in the centre of the country stopped their cars everywhere and quickly dive into the roadside.
Terrified Israelis prayed as they saw a deadly fireworks show above their heads: dozens of missiles were shot out of the sky by the Iron Dome. People took refuge behind walls and under bridges, fearing that debris would end up on them.
A woman in Rishon came to life while a bus was hit in Holon. At least eight people were injured, including a five-year-old child. Israel temporarily stopped air traffic at the national airport, about 20 minutes outside Tel Aviv, fearing that aircraft would be hit.
At the same time, Lod is also in flames. The mixed city in Israel is the scene of unprecedented violence, where Arab gangs travelled through the streets Tuesday evening to set fire to shops, synagogues and Jews’ cars.
Hamas crows victory in the meantime. “We have achieved a victory in the battle for Jerusalem,” said leader Ismail Haniyeh. “There is a new balance of power.” The militant group warns that Tel Aviv will be re-attacked if Israel decides to bomb apartment buildings in the Gaza Strip. That is exactly what it intends, according to Israeli radio.
Hamas would have driven a ceasefire earlier in the day, but Israel refused to accept an Egyptian mediation attempt. It had already fired hundreds of missiles at Israeli villages and towns near the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with a large number of bombings, deploying more than 80 fighters, including the advanced F-35.
Key targets were the launching facilities of the terrorist groups in Gaza. Israel also claims to have eliminated at least fifteen militants, including a commander of Hamas and three leaders of Islamic Jihad. Sources in Gaza say that at least 28 people died in the Israeli attacks, including nine children.
Main target until Tuesday night was the coastal town of Ashkelon, where one giant jump-off after another was fired, intended to fire off the Iron Dome, the famous anti-aircraft artillery. Most of the day the streets were extinct. Cars drove around with speakers to call the population to stay indoors. If the many explosions didn‘t. But those who do not have an armored shelter were also at home at risk. Like the caretaker of an old lady in a small corner house that was hit full by a rocket. She didn’t survive, just like another woman in the city of 160,000 inhabitants.
At less than fifty meters from the affected house there is a public shelter, but the old lady and her caretaker did not reach it in time. After the deadly attack, there are two ladies inside. It‘s been five hours. Esther Hekter (71) is tied to a wheelchair and so her caretaker found it safer to spend the day in the crazed, hot room where there are only a few old desks and chairs.
Hekter, deaf to one ear, tells how at night she dragged herself on her sticks to a small room in the house, because she would be safest there. “I’m alone. My children live far from here, they are very worried about me. But they sit at work and cannot come.”
She knows the woman whose house was hit. “For decades, it‘s terrible what happened.” Then she postage her caretaker. “Can we finally go home?” There’s a resolute “no.” “She‘s scared, I’m not anymore. My time is almost coming anyway.”
Israel has already bombed 500 targets.