'I saw a ball of fire'

Michal Weiss didn't pay much attention to the sound of the plane as she picked up two of her six children from their school in the South Hebron Hills settlement of Pnei Hever. "Training planes fly overhead all the time," Weiss told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. She looked up for a second, to see if she could spot the plane. "I always look," she said. Typically she just glances up for a second. But this time, she couldn't find the plane, she just heard the noise. In an unusual way, "the noise got louder." Then suddenly, she heard "an unbelievable shriek." "The sound was very strong, but it only lasted for a second," Weiss said. There was not even enough time to cover her ears before it stopped, she said. For a split second, she worried that the pilot had dropped a bomb. "It was quiet and I saw a ball of fire. Then there was a mushroom cloud of black smoke." Her children, ages five and six, asked her, "What is happening." By then she understood that a plane had crashed. She explained to them what was happening as she called emergency services to report the accident. Residents of the settlement who also heard the noise came out to the street to see what was happening, Weiss said. Some said the noise had been so loud that their windows shook, she said. She and her children returned home. Although they did not head toward the site of the crash, they continued to hear the activity in the area. There were helicopters and ambulances, Weiss said. By then the rest of her children had arrived, and they all had questions.