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Rocket attack pierces town’s sense of safety

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TALI FEINBERG

“At first, we thought the missile had fallen in a field, but then we heard ambulance sirens and knew it couldn’t be good. We later heard that it landed on a house about one kilometre km away from us.”

Sugarman lives in Tel Mond, which she describes as the “main town” in an area surrounded by moshavim (communal farming communities). “My house is next to a field, and on the other side is Moshav Mishmeret, where the rocket fell on a family’s home. They also moved here 30 years ago, from England.”

The owner of the house, Robert Wolf, told the media after the attack that if his family (including two small children) had not gone to the mamad, they would all be dead. Their home has been reduced to rubble, and their dogs were killed.

Sugarman says that it is a very “Anglo” area, with many South African and British olim, who are drawn to the rural, quiet lifestyle of this part of Israel. It is very near to the South African “centres” of Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, and Herzliya.

“We are quite spoilt because we hardly ever have rockets fall on this area, but this incident shows how close everything really is. In fact, friends in Ra’anana ten kilometres away heard the explosion too. These missiles can travel 120 kilometres. Nothing is far away.”

She says the Iron Dome is expensive, and often it doesn’t shoot down a rocket if it configures that it will land in a field, which is what happened on Moshav Mishmeret a few years ago. She is not sure how the Iron Dome did not configure that it would land on a house this time.

“I think it definitely caught Israel by surprise. It was scary as it really could have fallen on any house in the area. It certainly hit ‘close to home’, both literally and figuratively,” she says. At the same time, she says that those around her are not panicking. “Everyone is so well trained. If you hear a siren, you go to a shelter, no matter what.”

She says those around her are a little shaken and upset about the family pets killed in the attack. They are ensuring their mamad rooms are clear and ready for any emergency. “But besides that, life in this part of Israel is going on as normal.”

Meanwhile in the south of Israel, schools were closed after Israel bombed Gaza overnight in retaliation for the rocket attack. Missiles are expected in response.

“There is a lot of speculation [about why this happened now],” says Sugarman. “Some people think it’s to interfere with Prime Minister Netanyahu who was in Washington but returned home after the rocket attack. Some think it’s retaliation for rioting Palestinian prisoners in Israel being injured. When missiles were fired at Tel Aviv two weeks ago, Hamas said it was a ‘mistake’. But no one is buying that excuse now. We are keeping our eyes on the news.”

Regarding the family whose house was destroyed, Sugarman says that, “they are definitely being looked after. That is the beauty of Israel. No one is ever left alone. There was a message going around to donate clothes, toiletries etcetera, and by the end of the day, the family said it had enough of what it needed. The moshav will organise food, counselling, and whatever they needs. The state will also reimburse the family to allow it to rebuild the house, as well as other people whose homes were damaged.”

Dave Bloom, who hails from Zimbabwe and lives in nearby Kochav Yair, said he and his wife, “Woke to the air-raid siren and immediately went down to our shelter. About 60 seconds later, we heard the explosion. We thought it was an interception by the Iron Dome. Then, we saw the news of a house obliterated about seven kilometres due west of us… nerve-wracking to say the least.”

Estelle Geva, who lives on Kibbutz Nir Eliyahu and came to Israel from South Africa in 1975, says that she is about six to seven kilometres away from where the rocket fell. “I was woken by the siren… I had not heard the incredible storm that had been blowing during the night, but I did hear the siren! About two minutes after the alert, we heard the dreadful boom which shortly afterwards we heard was the rocket falling on the house in Mishmeret. The house was totally destroyed, and there is lots of damage to surrounding homes and cars.

“Life continues… schools here operated as usual today [Monday]. I’m sure that parents with young children have extra worry on their shoulders. It’s not that one just moves on as if nothing has happened,” she says. “Those living in the south have 12 seconds to get to safety. Here we have one and a half minutes. They are used to the situation, but it doesn’t make it okay. It’s scary to think that they can fire a rocket that reaches our area.”

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