Ashdod Police officers stand in a front yard hit by a Hamas rocket..
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Eylana Tebrushnaya hid in her bed as a warning siren wailed over the southern port of Ashdod on Tuesday at 11 a.m. just two hours after the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire was scheduled to come into effect.
Her apartment lacks a protected room, but the bedroom has mostly solid walls and is set away from the large living room windows that look out onto the building’s front yard.
“I heard a forceful explosion and I thought, that’s it, a rocket has hit the house,” she said.
Dazed, she walked out into her living room only to see it littered with a carpet of glass shards from the windows.
The rocket itself had hit her neighbor’s yard on a small seaside street of one-family homes and small apartment buildings, destroying windows and pockmarking walls.
Her building of six apartments sustained the bulk of the damage.
As she spoke it was possible to hear her neighbors sweeping up glass. She had so little faith in the cease-fire, Tebrushnaya said, that “it was almost as if I was waiting for the siren.”
Her upstairs neighbor, Anna Freidman woke up more hopeful that Israel and Hamas would put down their arms. She headed out, as she does every morning, to the nearby city of Kiryat Malachi, where she works as an accountant, and her husband went to his job in Ashdod.
A warning siren soon sent her and everyone else running for a protected room as Hamas fired rockets toward Israel’s southern cities. She heard the Iron Dome intercept a rocket above Kiryat Malachi and thought the danger had passed.
“I called my husband to see how he was and he said he heard that a rocket fell in our neighborhood,” the small blackhaired woman recalled as she stood in her kitchen.
Then a neighbor called crying and said that a rocket had fallen near her apartment damaging the building, including her home.
“You can’t continue at work as if nothing had happened,” Freidman said.
She returned home and when she saw the pellet holes in the walls and the floors filled with shattered glass, she burst into tears. “I didn’t imagine that it would hit here.”
She said the shards had hit almost everything in the room.
Glass shards from the windows in her sunroom were everywhere.
Metal pellets from the rocket cracked her television screen and smashed the air-conditioner on the wall.
The only things left intact were the wine glasses in the cabinet.
It has not been an easy year for Freidman, who miscarried in her ninth month of pregnancy. “That was five months ago and now this has happened,” she said bursting briefly into tears.
While their lives had appeared to continue as normal in the last week of the war, their daily movements have been impacted.
Freidman said she now sleeps with her clothes on, because there is no protected room in their apartment. So when the sirens blare, she and her husband race to the stairwell outside their front door – not something she wants to do in her pajamas.
Her neighbor Jacques Klapp said that metal shards also hit his apartment. He picked one up off the floor and held it out in the palm of his hands.
As he spoke a locksmith was busy drilling into his door to repair the damage caused after firefighters broke the lock to rescue his large brown dog, Ice, who was slightly wounded from a pellet.
Neither he nor his roommate Yossi Abecasis, were home at the time of the attack.
Abecasis had left the apartment briefly before the siren blasted. As he neared his home after the attack, he saw firefighters and neighbors milling about.
He understood immediately that the rocket had fallen there and he started to run.
When firefighters barred him from entering the building he told them about the dog, but no one could open the door because it was damaged by the blast, so the firemen broke the lock.
“It took almost an hour to get him out,” Abecasis said. “He [Ice] was frightened and hysterical.”
Klapp said that like Freidman he had been slightly hopeful that the cease-fire would hold. “But I knew that nothing was really over. I woke up to the same reality,” Klapp said.