I’ve just had a lucky escape! Earlier this evening, we had a Code Red missile alert here in Jerusalem, the second in three days – Jerusalem having been relatively immune to these attacks, so far. In fact, based on past experience, I was pretty certain that, apart from the missile attack the day before yesterday, any further such attacks on the Capital were almost certain to take place on a Friday afternoon, shortly before the start of the Sabbath.
I was wrong. Shortly before 6 pm, the bloodcurdling wailing of the sirens began.
I dashed down to the shelter – where there are still no lights. It seems that you can’t use ordinary light bulbs down there, because they run off a transformer, instead of being connected to the rest of the lights in the stairwell. We need 24V light bulbs instead, I was told by the Residents Committee. It also seems that there’s been a run on these special 24V light bulbs and, at present, there are none available!
Someone neglected to ask Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to hold off till we could get light bulbs for the shelter…
Fortunately, some of us had thought to bring our mobile phones with us, so we used them to provide light. That’s about all they’re good for in such a situation, because there’s no cell phone reception down in the shelter.
After five minutes or so, the neighbour who lives in the basement apartment opposite the bomb shelter, who had remained in his own home, came out onto the stairwell to inform us that he had heard two booms. Evidently, the missiles had already fallen or been intercepted mid-air by our Iron Dome defence system. I waited a couple of minutes more, just to be on the safe side, before returning to my apartment and turning on the television.
As I walked through the door, the WhatsApp messages began popping up, one after another, on my smartphone. Facebook provided up-to-the-minute news from more friends. One of them spoke of having heard five booms.
There appear to be conflicting reports. At first, it was announced that five missiles were intercepted over Jerusalem this time. The latest report says that “only” four missiles were launched from Gaza against Jerusalem, two were intercepted mid-air and two fell on open ground. It was also announced, immediately afterwards, that there were no casualties. This, too, was premature. It now appears that a 74-year-old man suffered a severe head injury when he fell on the stairs, in the rush to reach the shelter.
I had rather been hoping that at least one missile would fall on the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It would have been poetic justice, considering that, two days ago, when the first missiles were aimed at Jerusalem, the Arabs of the city gathered on the Temple Mount, singing and dancing with joy!
Oh – and that lucky escape I mentioned? Well, if the attack had been five minutes earlier, it would have caught me in the shower. I would never have made it to the shelter in time.
UPDATE: As I write this, with one eye on the television, reports are coming in of a direct hit on a house in Beersheba – no casualties, thank God.
And further reports are coming in, faster than I can write – this time, of two people seriously wounded in the Eshkol Regional Council, as a result of mortar fire from nearby Gaza. They have been taken to the Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
When I have more details, I will let you know.