A MAN walks down a street in Zichron Ya’acov yesterday.
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
On the second full day of Operation Protective Edge, residents as far north as Zichron Ya’acov found themselves in Hamas’s rocket range Wednesday after rockets were reported in the areas of Caesarea, Hadera and elsewhere the night before.
While details were unclear and not cleared for publication, there were reports of rocket strikes in open areas in the Hof Hacarmel region, which runs from Caesarea up to Tirat Carmel, as well as in Hadera and Or Akiva. There seemed to be a high level of confusion about the strikes, with residents saying alternately that they had heard a siren but no explosion; an explosion but no siren; or neither, having only heard in the news that their town had been targeted.
Avi Brumberg, spokesman for the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council, said that for the past nearly 48 hours, the council had been at a higher level of readiness and had ordered local bomb shelters opened. He said the council had called on locals to heed the warnings of the IDF Home Front Command, but with an emphasis on still preserving routine.
He said there were bomb shelters in most of the towns in his region and that people had about a minute and a half to seek shelter, but that they shouldn’t be dismissive of the threat.
“I don’t really think Hof Hacarmel is on the Hamas radar,” he said. “They just want to show that they can hit all of Israel.”
A similar sentiment came from Avi Shemesh, a kiosk owner in Zichron Ya’acov, which was reportedly the target of a Hamas rocket on Wednesday afternoon.
Shemesh said he had heard the siren and run next door to the local council office, where he had waited out the siren in the bomb shelter, while others had taken shelter in the basement of a gym nearby. He said he had heard the boom and that it had sounded like it was nearby, but he didn’t seem shaken up by it.
“If you ask me, it’ll be once or twice up here, that’s it. It’s just a show of force to show they can do it,” he said. “How many of these rockets could they have anyway? They don’t have a budget – they barely have food.”
As was the case elsewhere, there seemed to be real confusion about whether or not there had been a rocket, and even whether there had actually been an explosion or whether it was a false alarm.
Zichron Ya’acov resident Shimon Benita said he had put his kids in the shelter and gone outside, standing at a high observation point to see the rocket. He said he had seen nothing and heard no explosion.
“People are starting to imagine things, hear things that aren’t there. Nothing ever falls here,” he said.
In the Kennedy neighborhood of Or Akiva, residents were mopping the floor of a bomb shelter in an apartment building, getting it ready for what they expected would be more sirens and explosions.
“Since 2006 [in the Second Lebanon War], we haven’t had anything, but now it’s everywhere – Rehovot, Kfar Saba, all over,” said Oshra Maman, a mother of two, who bemoaned the lack of caution she said other residents were showing.
She said when the first siren had gone off Tuesday at 9:30 p.m., people on the main street had stayed in their stores rather than racing to the shelters, and during an alarm around 2:30 a.m. she hadn’t seen any rush for the stairwell in her building.
“Once someone gets hurt, it will change – people will start to take this more seriously,” she said.
On Tuesday night, news that a rocket had struck the Hadera area signaled that Hamas had reached its northernmost site so far. In Hadera, however, like elsewhere, there was confusion. Some said they’d heard that it had landed in the sea or far east of town, or that only shrapnel from an Iron Dome hit had landed in the city, or that there had never been a rocket at all. At the same time, there were reports in the press that at least some of the rockets fired at the north had been stripped of their explosive payload in order to increase their range.
What they could all agree on was that there had been no siren, and that many residents had only heard about the rocket from the news.
Some gathered that Hamas had been trying to hit the power plant near Caesarea, but they said they knew nothing else about the incident and that by no means was the town now on war footing.
One resident, a carpentry store owner named Moti, said he had been downtown when the strike reportedly happened, but that he had heard no siren.
“What do you expect?” he said. “It’s Hadera, nothing works.”