Shocked Disbelief at Scene of Missile Devastation With PM-Gulf-Israel, Bjt
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ Neighbors gazed in muted shock at the wrecked homes that told them the Persian Gulf war had come to their doorstep today.
Dawn broke on a 10-foot-deep crater, a flattened house and a dozen other heavily damaged apartments. Rescue workers picked over the rubble while bystanders clustered behind a police cordon.
Avi Salomon remembered that just after the sirens wailed, he went outside in answer to frantic calls from a neighbor who couldn’t get his gas mask on.
″I looked up and I saw fire. Fire, coming out of the sky. A ball of fire, it came down slowly, hit the ground and boom 3/8 So we both lay down on the ground,″ Salomon said.
Eyal Hamoud spoke in a tone of incredulity about ″a huge shock wave.″
″We heard it whistling in. We heard the boom and a window 100 meters (yards) away just came completely out with the frame.″
Tel Aviv had almost shut down on Thursday as Israelis stayed home in case the gulf war reached them. But few truly believed it would, judging by the fact that most people on the streets ignored instructions to carry their gas masks at all times.
Today, after the missiles arrived, nobody was going outside without a mask in hand.
Shemtov Davidi was dozing off, listening to the radio, when the missile struck the neighborhood of mostly Iranian immigrants.
″I heard ‘boom 3/8,’ and half my house was gone. My mother suffered medium injuries and my brother is seriously injured,″ he said, adding that another brother also was injured.
Although it was uncertain then whether the missile contained poison gas, he ran outside and grabbed a vegetable cart on which he trundled his mother to safety. He said she suffered a skull fracture.
The front wall of his house was blown off and the roof was half caved in.
Nouri Salemeh invited a reporter to look at his house. Its picture window was blown out and the frame was sagging.
How did he feel about Iraqi missiles hitting his neighborhood? ″I’m just grateful to be alive,″ he said.
He and his friend, Shlomo Lati, agreed that Israel should not retaliate. ″It’s not so terrible,″ said Lati. ″The state of Israel should restrain itself. We don’t need to get into further trouble.″
A woman passing by overheard the remark and objected strenuously. ″No 3/8 I want him (Saddam Hussein) dead,″ she exclaimed. ″They should kill him now, this moment. Now is the chance to do it.″
Opinion was equally divided among men gazing at the wreckage.
″I think Israel should retaliate with all its strength,″ said Hamoud.
″Our air force is the best,″ he said. ″The Americans aren’t doing a good job down there. After 2,000 sorties, nearly all the missiles should have been destroyed. All they talk about is their (Iraq’s) planes, but we’re afraid of the missiles.″
Pinhas Pur, an elderly man standing next to him, said, ″I think we should leave it to the Americans to deal with them. The farther away the better.″
There were sharp comments about Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat, who had joked a few days ago that any missile at Tel Aviv would take eight minutes to arrive and two hours to find parking.
In fact the missiles hit Israel minutes after the air raid sirens went off, and in this particular neighborhood, residents complained that the sirens weren’t loud enough.
There was even a moment of humor when someone mentioned that he was ″a Parsi″ - a Jew of Iranian descent. From the crowd came the retort: ″No wonder the Iraqis picked this place for their missiles,″ a reference to Iraq’s eight-year war with Iran that included missile attacks on each other’s capitals.