'I would be burying my family if we hadn’t gotten to the bomb shelter'

“I nearly lost my family,” said Robert Wolf, as he stood outside the shell of his house, on a tree-lined street with single family homes in the middle of the country, close to Kfar Saba.

Shattered glass covers shoes left on the seat of a car that was damaged after a rocket hit a house north of Tel Aviv, Israel March 25, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Shattered glass covers shoes left on the seat of a car that was damaged after a rocket hit a house north of Tel Aviv, Israel March 25, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Luck and miracles saved seven members of the Wolf family from almost certain death, when a rocket from Gaza landed in their home in Moshav Mishmeret at around 5:20 a.m. on Monday.
“I nearly lost my family,” said Robert Wolf, as he stood outside the shell of his house, on a tree-lined street with single family homes, located in the middle of the country close to Kfar Saba.
Family whose home was hit by rocket speak, March 25, 2019 (Tovah Lazaroff)
“If we had not gotten to the bomb shelter in time, I would now be burying all my family,” he said.
The blown-out red roof tile, the fallen beams, the walls reduced to rubble, all bore testament to the likelihood that the nightmare scenario he described could really have happened.
Robert listed on his fingers the lives that had been saved: “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. They would all have been dead if we didn’t do what we had been supposed to do.”
Both Wolf and his wife immigrated to Israel from Great Britain some 30 years ago.
Robert’s son Daniel explained to reporters the sudden surprising dash to safety that the family had made that morning to the safe room in their home, mere seconds after waking up. It was narrative peppered with the words luck and miracle.
On a normal morning, Daniel would have been asleep in his bed with his wife Yael. But the night before, he had fallen asleep on the sofa as he scanned his phone and was still there when the warning siren rang out in the moshav.
Something about the acoustics of that room allowed him to hear the siren, when no one else in the house did.
Daniel immediately raced to four bedrooms; his wife’s, his parents and those of his daughters Mia and Tamara. He held both of the girls in his arms as he and his wife raced to the small reinforced room designed to protect them from rocket attacks.
They left the door of the safe room open for his mother, Susan, who never made it further than the kitchen and therefore suffered the most injuries.
Robert left the house to head to his daughter’s separate apartment unit, which was attached to the house, to make sure she had woken up. They were in the yard on their way to the safe room in the main part of the house, when the rocket hit. One moment the house was there; the next moment it was gone, he said.
In the safe room, Daniel said he knew immediately that the house had been hit. The air turned black with dust and his ears buzzed, he said. “I heard screaming, so I knew something bad happened. Luckily we were OK. It was a miracle.”
The family was evacuated to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where four of its members were treated for light injuries and released. Yael and the younger daughter Tamara remained in the hospital overnight for observation. Susan was transferred to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where she is in moderate condition.
A 12-year-old girl who lives nearby also remained in the hospital for injuries she sustained to her foot.
Robert was clear that what saved his family was their decision to head to the bomb shelter, and not fancy slogans by politicians about security.
“With all the games of politicians and all of them blowing out their chests… They are all going to save us. This is the real price and I just paid it,” Robert said.
British Ambassador David Quarrey tweeted a condemnation of the attack. “Our thoughts are with the British-Israeli family whose house in Mishmeret was hit. There can be no justification of any kind for this attack, whose consequences could have been devastating,” he wrote.
The force of the blast was so great that it damaged other homes on the street, including that of the Gittel family, which lives across the street from the Wolfs.
They never made it to the safe room before the blast. Ron and his wife, Racheli, were woken by the siren as they slept in their bedroom on the first floor of their home.
“We don’t live in the periphery, so we didn’t exactly race to the safe room. We took a few steps; we hadn’t even left the bedroom when we heard a loud explosion. The windows burst. The window boxes flew,” he recalled as he sat on the sofa in his living room.
“I thought it had fallen in the yard,” Gittel said.
The situation immediately became stressful and they feared a second missile. They raced into their son Guy’s bedroom next door, yelling at him, “Wake up, wake up!”
Their 10-year-old son had not stirred from the noise. “He is a heavy sleeper; a tank could roll over him and he wouldn’t notice,” Ron said, almost with a laugh – but not really.
They roused him, then raced one short flight into the basement where their daughter Emmy, 13, slept, and entered their safe room.
They waited 10 minutes before venturing out to the smell of gas and smoke.
One of the shards from the missile had cut the gas line. But along with the many miracles that morning, an explosion did not follow.
Although they live in the center of the country, it is not the first time that a Gaza missile has hit their community, just the first time it has caused damage. During the 2014 Gaza war, a missile launched from Gaza fell harmlessly in a field nearby.
To put on a face of normality for the children, they sent them to school, just as if it was any other morning. But, they stayed home to clean up the damage, and in the process, also opened their home and their yard to reporters.
At times, Ron also wandered out into the street, filled with reporters, soldiers and police cars. One bombed out car – with its windows shattered and a blown off bumper that had fallen onto the lawn of the Wolf’s home – sat across the street.
In front of them is the question of whether to go to sleep in their bedrooms as normal or to sleep for a night or two in the safe room.
“It was very frightening,” Ron said. But somehow, in spite of the attack, he still feels calm and safe in his room.
Still, he said, “It was a very close call.