Caught between Israel-Gaza violence

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Israeli authorities go to work at a synagogue in Ashdod where a rocket landed but did not explode. (Photo: Alon Tuval, The World)

Story by Matthew Bell, PRI's The World. Listen to audio for full report.

It's a familiar pattern: Israel accused Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip of carrying out attacks on Thursday that killed eight Israelis. In response, Israel launched air strikes against Gaza. On Friday, militants in Gaza fired a dozen rockets into Israel.

There's no reason to think the retaliation attacks will end there.

Most of the rockets fired early Friday landed in open areas. But two of them hit the Israeli port city of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of the Gaza Strip.

The caretaker at a Jewish temple swept up piles of tiny glass shards. Windows up to the third story shattered when a rocket hit a couple of hundred yards away early Friday.

"When I got there, it was chaos," said, an emergency medical technician, who was one of the first on the scene, who didn't want to give his name. "People were yelling and screaming. One man had an entry wound in his abdomen. But then we turned him over and saw a much bigger exit wound in his back. Six people were wounded in all and one of them seriously."

Given what he'd just seen, the medic said what he really wanted was for the state to make the violence stop. So far, he said, he's not at all satisfied with Israel's military response.

Police cordoned off the site of a second rocket strike. It was a direct hit on small synagogue. But the weapon failed to explode. City security chief Areyeh Itach said this could have been a very bloody scene.

"The synagogue get one rocket -- katushya -- inside," he said. "And anyone don't hurt from the rocket because all the people that pray and finish the pray and go out from the synagogue and the rocket fell down inside and it's a miracle for us."

It was really a miracle for Israel Albert. The father of six was still inside the building when the rocket smashed through roof. He said he feels today was supposed to be his funeral.

Read the rest of this story on The World website.


PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More about The World.

Tagged: AshdodGazaIsraelGaza StripMatthew BellAreyeh ItachMiddle East.