Basketball players in Central Israel were forced to stop their game and drop to the floor on Tuesday as sirens wailed across major civilian sites across the country, warning of incoming missiles fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza.
A video Israeli journalist Arale Weisberg obtained from the Israel Basketball Association shows the intense moment when a game between local teams Maccabi Hod Hasharon and Ramat Hasharon was interrupted by missile warnings.
The video shows the athletes peacefully going about their game, with one of them scoring a hoop when the commentator informs them and spectators of rocket sirens wailing outside the building.
Everyone tries to flee the building. Those who cannot make it out in time, including many players, lie flat on the ground bracing for possible impact.
Fortunately, no one was hurt by any Palestinian missiles. The suspended game resumed and was completed after the threat of rockets briefly subsided in the region, according to Eurohoops.
However, many in the Holy Land were not so fortunate as these players on Tuesday and Wednesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, at least seven individuals have been killed and multiple injured across Israel. Six of them were Israeli. One of them was a foreign worker taking care of an elderly Jewish lady.
The deaths and injuries were caused by rockets that Palestinian militants, U.S.-designated terrorist groups, indiscriminately fired at the Jewish state, and anti-tank missiles fired at vehicles near the Israeli border with Gaza, according to reports by the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post.
The dead, as reported by the Post, include:
- Leah Yom Tov, 63
- Khalil Awad, 52, and his daughter Nadin, 16
- Soumya Santosh, 30
- Nella Gurevitz, in her 80s
- Omer Tabib, 21
According to the Post, Gurevitz was killed by a rocket that directly hit an apartment in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon north of Gaza. Her now widowed husband is still at the hospital due to his injuries.
Palestinian terrorists murdered Yom Tov on Tuesday night when one of their missiles landed directly on her house in Rishon Lezion, Israel. Her children had heard the sirens and saw rockets speeding toward the western part of the city where their home was. But, when they had called their mother to warn her, her line was busy.
Her body was found beneath debris after local rescue teams arrived at the scene.
Awad and his teenage daughter Nadin, both Israelis of Palestinian origin living near the town of Lod, were slain after a rocket hit a car near their house on Wednesday early morning local time.
Tabib was an Israeli soldier killed by an anti-tank missile one of the Islamist terror groups in Gaza fired. According to the Post, his relatives and friends knew him as someone who "was social, open and had a sense of humor."
Santosh was the foreign worker killed. Before her tragic demise, she had worked in Israel for seven years, hailing from the Idukki district in the Indian state of Kerala. She was in Ashkelon, speaking to her husband back home in India on a video call when the terrorists' missile struck the apartment she was in, according to Indian outlet NDTV-TV.
The worst round of rocket fire, with more than 800 rockets fired, occurred between Tuesday night and Wednesday early morning, according to the Times of Israel. It was during one period of multiple waves of rocket fire when the basketball players were forced to suspend their game. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome, however, some managed to fall through because the rapid-fire managed to overwhelm some Iron Dome batteries.
Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas' armed wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for that round of fire, which targeted almost the entire Israeli west coast, according to data from Israeli missile alert system, Red Alerts - Cumta.
The groups claimed responsibility on their official Telegram channels.
One of the killed, as confirmed by Hamas, is Bassem Issa, Hamas' Gaza City commander -- one of the most senior Hamas officials Israel has killed since 2014.
However, some of the airstrikes intended for those tied to militant groups also resulted in tragic civilian deaths and injuries in Gaza, including children and women.
WARNING: The following tweet contains graphic imagery.
The missile fire, still going on, began on Monday evening local time when Israel was celebrating Jerusalem Day -- the day Jerusalem was united under Jewish control.
On that day, Hamas and other terrorist groups part of a collective entity called the “Common Room” issued an ultimatum addressed to Israel giving the Jewish State until 6:00 p.m. local time to meet their demands.
According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the “Common Room,” or the Palestinian “Joint Operations Room,” is a team of Gazan terrorist organizations that function as a quasi Palestinian army fighting Israel.
They demanded that Israel removes troops and Israeli citizens from the Al Aqsa Yard on Temple Mount and from Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah. They also demanded the release of Palestinians Israel had detained during violent riots in Jerusalem since the beginning of Ramadan. Both were demands Israel could not and would not meet in the one-hour window they provided.
When Israel did not meet their demands, they unleashed multiple waves of missile strikes.
Hamas had been threatening an attack on Israel right from April. In an April 25 media appearance, Hamas figure and former leader Khalid Meshaal told the media that they will make Ramadan 28 (corresponding to the Gregorian calendar date of May 10) a "defining moment" for the Palestinian cause against Israel.
Right from around that time, Palestinian media and terrorist groups published multiple videos depicting attacks on Israel and a Palestinian conquest of Jerusalem.
By Andrew Jose