UPDATES 7 am Israel time, Wednesday, July 9 2014:
The numbers are still coming in this morning, but by our count here at israelstreet there were 49 separate missile strikes on southern and central Israel yesterday. Approximately the same number of missiles were fired as the day before–about 180 (the official count has already been upticked from 100 to 117 to 130)–29 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
What was markedly different about the missile fire yesterday was the much wider range of targets and the intensity of the salvos.
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, and the Sharon plain all experienced missiles fired by the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza–though it must be added that for these locations, the news was that they were barely hit with no more than 3 missiles in each location.
On the other hand, the intensity of the missile attacks was far greater here in the South. For example, during one of our last missile attacks of the evening here in Ashdod, we had 16 explosions directly over our house in a 2 minute period. In fact, there were so many incoming missiles that they simply overwhelmed the Iron Dome System which only can shoot 8 missiles per battery at a time. As a result, some missiles got through and struck homes here in the city.
But even the 24 missiles that hit Ashdod during the day and evening pale in number to the 40 that hit the Eshkol region and the 50 that struck in and around Sderot and Shaar Hanegev.
And it must be added that Hamas was as good as its word having promised throughout the day that it would attack Tel Aviv and that it would attack Israel on land. In the latter regard, the attempt by Hamas terrorist “seals” to swim ashore and attack a naval base near Zikim was notable. Were it not for the alert observation of a female spotter, who knows what would have happened?
As it was, the five heavily armed terrorists were caught as they ran into the dunes from the beach and were killed in a hail of gunfire and missiles.
One of the most worrying aspects of the missile fire yesterday was the temporary closure of Ben Gurion airport though it was not announced as such. Nevertheless, there was a period of time yesterday when incoming passenger planes were put into holding patterns out over the Mediterranean until it was deemed safe enough for them to land.
At this hour of the morning, we still have little information about what the IAF struck in Gaza last night except to say that one commander of Islamic Jihad was killed and a senior member of Hamas escaped death when a missile hit his house. Thus far, the IDF says that it has attacked 270 terrorist targets.
Today’s blog will follow in a few hours. Keep track of terrorist missile attacks during the day by checking the israelstreet breaking news ticker on the right hand side of this page.
Since the above updates were written and posted three hours ago, the missile attack on Israeli cities and towns has continued unabated. Five missiles from Gaza have been intercepted over the Dan region as the Palestinian terrorists have made a concerted, but unsuccessful attempt to hit Ben Gurion Airport.
Here in Ashdod, we have “only” been in our bomb shelter once so far this morning at which time we heard 2 intercepts over our home.
Your humble servant thought he would take a few minutes this morning to describe what life was like in Ashdod yesterday. Perhaps, you can get some small sense of the completely surreal world of southern Israel.
Yesterday, like today, was sunny and hot. We got up early, went for our morning walk to beat the sun, and returned to the house.
Shortly after 10 am, the first incoming rocket siren pierced the morning air with its high decibel police siren whine. High decible, by the way, means high decibel. Imagine sitting in your house and suddenly a police siren at its loudest volume goes off right beside you.
We ran to our bomb shelter–in Ashdod we are supposed to have 45 seconds but usually we have about 30–which is located partly underground at the lowest level in our house. It is a small room, about 2 x 2 meters, made of reinforced concrete. There is an air vent and ladder to the outside. Our air vent is actually still taped up with plastic from last year when we had the threat of chemical weapons being launched against Israel from Syria. We got to the room and closed the massive iron door behind us.
And sat down to wait. First, we always hear the thump of the Iron Dome interceptor rocket being fired about 3 km away. Then we hear the swoosh of the rocket through the air vent as it passes overhead. This is followed by silence, a silence that can be as short as 5 seconds and as long as a few minutes. The silence ends with an explosion overhead as the Iron Dome interceptor detonates. This is followed in short order by the explosion of the incoming missile from Gaza. After we hear the last explosion, we are supposed to wait in the bomb shelter for 10 minutes and especially not go outside for fear of falling shrapnel.
And so, yesterday, we went through several of these sequences.
Then at about 10:45 am, it was time to take our son to the Ashdod central bus station, about 2 km away, for his bus to Jerusalem. But first we had to make a stop at our local bank about 1 km away to take some money from the ATM machine. No sooner than we had parked the car than the air raid siren went off. We scrambled for cover against the nearest wall.
30 seconds later we saw the distinctive streaks of the Iron Dome interceptor overhead followed in short order by explosions directly overhead. The picture below is of the two distinctive puffs caused by missile explosions:
Then, as if nothing had happened, we withdrew the money from the ATM machine and continued on our way to the bus station where I dropped off my son and headed back home along the road that runs parallel to the Mediterranean.
Half way home, the sirens went off again. All of the cars in the road came to a sudden stop. Everyone got out, but there was nowhere to seek protection. So we stood there on the sidewalk watching the air battle over the city. Again, two incoming missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Here is a picture I took of one of them:
Finally by 11:00 am, I had returned to the house. Life continued as normal for the rest of the day except for the fact that we were even more acutely attuned to the constant warning sounds of red sirens going off all over southern Israel. As your humble servant gardened in the afternoon and barbecued some fish on the patio in the evening, his phone was continually sounding the red siren warning of incoming missiles.
[The actual time here is 10:02 am and the sirens have gone off again–back in the bomb shelter–two more missiles intercepted over Ashdod].
Returning to today’s blog:
Our night came to an end last night with the massive barrage that was launched at Ashdod, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and surrounding areas. However, whereas Jerusalem got 3 missiles and Tel Aviv 2, we had 16 explosions directly over our house.
By midnight we were asleep–only to be awakened every couple of hours by the phone app going off again as another location further south was bombed.
Such is the surreal world of southern Israel.