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(photo credit: AP)
A Grad rocket slammed into a residential building in Ashdod on Thursday, hitting the top floor and sending several chunks of concrete tumbling down to the street below.
Thirty-two people were treated for shock, but no one was wounded in the attack, thanks to residents' adherence to Home Front Command directives to enter and remain in safe rooms after hearing a siren, officials said.
"This is nothing less than a miracle," Magen David Adom chairman Eli Bin told The Jerusalem Post.
In the minutes following the rocket strike, MDA rescue officials combed the building from the top floor downward, searching for casualties, Bin said. "This is in line with the search and rescue doctrine we developed after the Second Lebanon War."
Shards of glass littered the street for dozens of meters in each direction, and Home Front Command officials sealed off the area for fear that the eighth floor of the building would collapse.
"It felt like an earthquake," said Nadav Moshe, 15. He had been walking down the street when he heard the air raid siren, and ran into the stairwell of his own building, adjacent to the structure that was hit.
"We are at war. The people of Israel must be strong and rise up to meet this challenge," Moshe added.
Remond Luzon, who lives in the building that was hit, was at his office in Tel Aviv when he heard about the rocket.
"My brother also lives [there], and I was worried about him. Thankfully he answered the phone when I called," Luzon said.
Shimon Buzgelo's elderly father, another resident of the targeted building, fell off his bed from the shockwave caused by the rocket impact.
"He was in bed, and suddenly heard an explosion," Buzgelo said after placing his father on an ambulance.
"I'm in shock. What I see here is indescribable," he added, gazing at the wreckage strewn along the road.
As residents and rescue officials milled around the scene, police announced on a loudspeaker that another rocket had been launched from Gaza, and called the people into building stairwells.
For some residents, the continuous stress proved too much to bear, as one woman broke down in tears while being evacuated.
"This is Ashdod; we are in central Israel. I'd like to ask the world, what would they do if this happened to them?" asked Gideon Shenko, a local resident.
Ashdod Police chief Dep.-Cmdr. Dan El-Garat said residents would not be allowed back into the building until after work was done to ensure its structural integrity.
Later on Thursday evening, two more rockets landed in the Ashdod area. Police did not immediately locate the projectiles, adding that no casualties or damage had been caused by the attack.