In the shower or at the shops, Israelis flee rockets as fighting rages


Sderot (Reuters) – Sarit Waizman had just put shampoo in her hair when the rocket sirens went off.

She rushed from the shower and, realizing she was not going to make it to her family’s reinforced safe room, crouched down in the living room and braced for impact.

The rocket, fired during Friday’s barrages from the Gaza Strip, struck next door, destroying her neighbor’s house in the Israeli border town of Sderot. Shrapnel burst into Waizman’s shower where she had stood moments before.

She was uninjured and her neighbors, who had been holed up in their own safe room, were also unhurt.

“I can’t think about what would have happened, god forbid, if I had stayed there. And I was scared, since I’m three months pregnant and I didn’t want something, god forbid, to happen to me,” Waizman, a 27-year-old beautician, said on Sunday.

More than 2,800 rockets have been launched by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups into Israel this week, amid the most serious fighting between Israel and Gaza militants in years. Many make it past Israel’s missile defences.

Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, according to Israeli authorities.

On the other side of the border in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, where the Israeli military has bombarded more than 1,500 targets with aerial and artillery shells, officials say the death toll stands at 188, including 55 children.

About 20 km (12 miles) up Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Hila Geva sat outside her bakery on Sunday in Ashkelon, one of the hardest-hit Israeli cities.

A few customers waited in line, hoping to finish shopping before sundown and the beginning of Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates the ancient Israelites receiving the Torah, or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.

“We stay all the family in the basement. We sleep there together,” Geva told Reuters. “We are used to this situation. We are very cool and strong. We are not afraid. But it’s not so easy. It’s hard with children, with the business.”

The conversation was cut short by rocket sirens. Geva rushed off, leading her customers into a shelter behind her bakery. No rockets fell nearby.

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