‘If we did not get to the bomb shelter in time, I’d be burying my family’: British ex-pat reveals how his wife, children and grandchildren cheated death when rocket hit their home in Israel
- British ex-pat Robert Wolf says he almost lost six family members in the blast
- Rocket fired from Gaza hit the family home in Mishmeret to the north of Tel Aviv
- Israel blamed Gaza rulers Hamas, who deny claims saying it was ‘bad weather’
- Armoured and infantry brigades have been sent to border in escalating response
A British ex-pat has cheated death after his home in Israel was destroyed by a rocket in the early hours of today.
Robert Wolf and his family narrowly avoided being caught in the explosion as they ran for their bomb shelter in Mishmeret to the north of Tel Aviv.
The rocket, fired from the Gaza Strip, ‘demolished’ the family home in central Israel and wounded seven people.
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‘If we had not gotten to the bomb shelter in time, I would now be burying all my family,’ said Mr Wolf, the British ex-pat living with his family in the home that was destroyed by the rocket
‘If we had not gotten to the bomb shelter in time, I would now be burying all my family,’ said Mr Wolf, who immigrated to Israel from England with his wife Susan.
‘That is two grandchildren, one 5 months old, one 2 years old. That would be my third child, with his wife, my wife, myself and my youngest daughter.
Israeli military have said that it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of about 75 miles, believed to have been made by Gaza’s rulers Hamas.
A view of the damage at a house that suffered a direct hit from a missile reportedly fired by Gaza rulers Hamas in the early hours of this morning
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A Hamas official denied the group was behind the rocket, suggesting it was caused by ‘bad weather’.
Homeowner Mr Wolf criticised politicians for ‘game playing’ and ‘blowing out their chests’ instead of dealing with protracted conflicts between Israel and Hamas.
‘This is the real price, and I just paid it and I nearly lost my family,’ he told the Jerusalem Post.
A 5-month-old and 2-year-old were among those with injuries following the explosion at the home at Mishmeret to the north of Tel Aviv
Robert Wolf stands inside the wreckage of his home that was hit by a rocket earlier today. He criticised for ‘blowing out their chests’ and claiming to be keeping citizens safe
Israeli officials said the self-manufactured rocket was fired from a launching pad in the southern part of the coastal strip, near Rafah, and had a range of about 75 miles.
‘They would all have been dead if we didn’t do what we had been supposed to do.’
The Israeli military have mobilised troops along the Gaza border and are calling up reserves after following the attack, setting the stage for a potential major conflagration shortly before Israel’s upcoming elections.
The attack prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington DC.
The Magen David Adom rescue service said it treated seven people, believed to be the family members, in the farming community of Mishmeret, including two women who were moderately wounded.
Israeli troops close a road in the southern Kibbutz of Mefalsim near the border with Gaza earlier today
Anticipating a strong Israeli response, Gaza’s Hamas leaders have apparently gone underground. Witnesses reported seeing Hamas evacuating its personnel from government premises
The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds. Two family dogs died in the explosion.
The sounds of air raid sirens had jolted residents of the Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, from their sleep shortly after 5 am, sending many to their bomb shelters.
‘It’s a miracle that nobody got killed,’ said Assi Dvilanski, a Magen David Adom paramedic who was one of the first responders at the scene.
The rocket strike ripped most of the home’s roof off. The family had evacuated to a bomb shelter after the air raid alarm was raised at 5am this morning
Responders inspecting the damaged house after it was hit by a rocket, and caused it to catch fire
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) cut short his trip to Washington DC, where he was meeting with President Donald Trump
Netanyahu, in Washington to meet President Donald Trump, held emergency consultations with military officials back in Israel and cancelled a planned address to the AIPAC conference.
‘There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully,’ he said. ‘In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward.’
Anticipating a strong Israeli response, Gaza’s Hamas leaders have apparently gone underground. Witnesses reported seeing Hamas evacuating its personnel from government premises.
Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yehiya Sinwar, had cancelled a scheduled public speech. Israel also shut down its main crossings into Gaza and imposed restrictions on fishing off the Gazan coast.
Netanyahu quickly said he would be cancelling the rest of his US trip and returning home. He faces a tense re-election campaign next month
Seven people were wounded in the attack, and two dogs belonging to the family died
Monday’s attack came 10 days after rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel’s densely populated commercial capital of Tel Aviv. The Israeli military at the time struck back and the sides appeared to be moving toward another confrontation. But Gaza’s Hamas leaders said the rocket was fired accidently and calm was quickly restored.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attack, but it would seem to be much harder to dismiss the latest incident as another misfire.
A possible trigger could have been a prison riot late Sunday when Hamas-affiliated prisoners stabbed an Israeli guard in the neck in southern Israel. Israeli guards moved in to subdue the rioters, wounding about a dozen prisoners, three of them seriously. In a statement, Hamas called for an end to the crackdown.
‘We do not yet have a full understanding of who exactly ordered the firing of the rocket,’ said Eran Lerman, a former deputy director at Israel’s National Security Council.
‘It’s a miracle that nobody got killed,’ said Assi Dvilanski, a Magen David Adom paramedic who was one of the first responders at the scene
‘But clearly this is no longer something that can be explained away as a mistake or a technical failure.’
Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group that seeks Israel’s destruction and possesses a large arsenal of rockets and missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel.
The territory is home to other Palestinian militant groups, including Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed armed organization that also has a rocket arsenal.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the group seized power in the strip in 2007. Smaller flare-ups have occurred sporadically since Israel and Hamas fought their last war in 2014. Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming out of the coastal territory.
The outburst comes at a sensitive time for both sides. Israel is holding national elections in 15 days. Netanyahu, who also served as defense minister, is locked in a tight fight for re-election and has faced heavy criticism from his opponents for what they say has been an ineffective response to Gaza militants.
‘The reality in which Hamas turned Israel into a hostage is unprecedented and unfathomable,’ his chief challenger, Benny Gantz, wrote on Twitter on Monday.
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