15 Minutes Of Terror Here In Ashdod Last Night

OVERNIGHT UPDATE: Grad rocket strikes near our location in Ashdod. Additional rocket strikes unofficially reported in Be’er Tuvia region. IDF Jeep hit by roadside bomb near Bethlehem.

Ashdod police last night cordoning off an area near where the Grad struck.

IDF and Ashdod police last night cordoning off an area near where the Grad struck.

Today’s blog was to have been about some of the amazing “green” activities that have taken place in Israel during the last few weeks, but the events of last night have taken precedence.

At 11:13 last night, red sirens went off throughout southern and even central Israel–in Rishon LeZion, Nes Ziona, Rehovot, Gadera, Kiryat Malachi, Ashkelon and many other communities further south.

Here in Ashdod, your humble servant and his wife were in our upstairs bedroom reading  when suddenly the piercing sound of the siren blasted into our room. We immediately leaped out of bed and started running down three flights of stairs to our bomb shelter which is located in the basement. When we got there about 15 seconds later, our youngest son was already in the room.

“Close the door Abba (Dad)!” he anxiously shouted to me as we rushed in.

I did, swinging the large cast-iron door into place and lowering the lock. And, suddenly, just as suddenly as we had jumped out of bed, we were just surrealistically sitting there, breathing heavily with siren screeching.

All that was going through my mind for the next two minutes was anger at the sheer randomness of it all. Here we were, barricaded in our bomb shelter, unable to even talk because of the pulsating, piercing siren, and just waiting to get killed by a rocket fired randomly at us from Islamic Hamas terrorists in northern Gaza. “Unbelievable,” I kept telling myself, “but this is really happening.”

Then, just as suddenly as the siren had first sounded, all was quiet.

We listened intently for the expected explosion.

About 6o seconds later it came–somewhere close and to the east of our house, close enough to rattle the house foundation and loud enough for us all to gasp. I looked at my watch; it was 11:16.

As we came back upstairs about five minutes later, the phone was already ringing from friends down the street wondering what we had heard and checking if we were all right, and from family in Nes Ziona and Kidron telling us they had had the sirens but had not heard an explosion.

A few minutes later through the window to our side yard came the loud urgent voice of Monique, our next-door neighbor as she was leaning out of her kitchen window in the middle of this strange night. Monique breathlessly told us that she had just talked to her daughter who lives several neighborhoods to the east, and that her daughter had apparently been very close to the rocket impact point, but that she and her family were all right.

All three of us (wife, son, and me) scurried to our various computers to find out any other information–which only slowly began to dribble in from various sources. There was nothing yet on the Israeli TV news channels.

By 11:30 we were back in bed upstairs, but as you can imagine we didn’t sleep very well–every noise during the night had us awake and wondering if the siren was about to go off–and by early morning the sounds of planes roaring toward Gaza to attack empty buildings filled the room.

Such is the life of those of us who live in southern Israel.


Addenda: Magen David Adom (MADA), Israel’s paramedic service, reports that a number of people in Ashdod who were near the Grad impact point are suffering from shock this morning, but no physical injuries have been reported.

Two reports from the media (Yediot Aharonot) are interesting because they come from Rehovot–a city far enough north that it has never experienced an impending rocket attack siren before. One resident said:  “I heard a strange sound after falling asleep. At first I didn’t know what it was. Who would have believed that the rockets would reach Rehovot. After several seconds we realized it was an alarm, woke up the kids and ran hysterically to the stairwell. It was very scary, the shelter was locked and no one was prepared.”

Another resident described it like this: “All the neighbors came down to the street and yelled ‘where do we go, where do we go’. They wondered why the Home Front Command didn’t tell us what to do. Everybody freaked out. In the middle of life – an alarm.”

Welcome to the world of southern Israel.

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