Wednesday, November 21, 2012

‘Safe rooms’ save lives in two direct rocket strikes

Times of Israel   If, as rumors had it, Israel and Hamas were close to a ceasefire deal on Tuesday evening, it was not apparent to the residents of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Rishon Lezion. All three towns were pounded by rocket fire from Gaza and all sustained direct hits — an unhappy first for Rishon, and a sadly familiar blight for Ashdod and Ashkelon. Beersheba, the rocket-battered capital of the Negev, for its part, sustained 30 rockets in two hours earlier in the day — including a direct hit on a home — with no serious injuries.

Stas Misezhnikov, Israel’s tourism minister, stood outside a devastated apartment building in Rishon, his home town, and spoke of “an absolute miracle that no one was killed here.” The owner and his wife were in the apartment on the sixth and top floor when it was hit — taking refuge, as the Home Front Command requires, in the “safe room” that is legally required in modern apartment buildings. The rocket smashed directly into the apartment, “exactly where they were sitting,” said Misezhnikov, “and yet they came out alive.”

Home owner Amir emerged a little later, indeed, to say, with remarkable stoicism, “we followed the instructions. We heard the huge explosion. We knew the house had been hit. We came out; really, everything was destroyed. I calmed my wife, and we walked downstairs.”

The rocket — said to be carrying 90 kilograms of explosives — penetrated through three floors of the building, causing immense damage, but no serious injuries, because all the residents were in their safe rooms.

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