TEL AVIV – Students at a yeshiva in Sderot that was struck by a rocket from Gaza Thursday night are reeling from shock.
While most of the 150 Lev Ladaat hesder yeshiva students had left for the weekend to be with their families, a handful remained late Thursday to continue Bible study.
The projectile hit a wall, smashing windows and pillars, but did not injure the students.
“I heard a really powerful boom. It happened two-three meters from where I was sitting,” Shalom Kachlon told the Ynet news website.
“I said Shema Yisrael,” he added, referring to a Jewish prayer.
“If the missile had been half a meter to the other side I don’t know if I would be speaking now,” he said.
“It was a miracle,” the head rabbi of the yeshiva, Shlomo Binyamin, told Channel 12 news. “Just 10 minutes earlier there had been 15 students saying evening prayers in the room.”
Next door, a Chabad Lubavitch synagogue was holding a study session.
“We were busy with a Torah class and in the middle of the lecture there was a siren, and seconds later a huge strong blast, which made everyone jump,” Rabbi Moshe Zeev Pizem told Channel 13 news. “A moment later we all realized we were alive.”
Due to its proximity to Gaza, residents of Sderot have only 15 seconds or less to run to a bomb shelter when a red alert alarm sounds.
Two rockets in total were fired on Thursday, but for an unknown reason the second was not intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
On Friday, the IDF announced that more Iron Dome batteries would be deployed to the south.
Politicians and others called for a major military operation on Thursday night, including assassinating leaders of Hamas, to stem the rising violence.
“The situation as it is cannot continue,” Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi said. “As I said in the past, only a military operation will bring peace to our region.”
Bezalel Simon, a resident of Sderot, said that Thursday’s rocket had re-instilled fear in older and younger residents alike.
“We live in insecurity and fear, the children did not want to go to school,” he told Ynet.
“Usually the children walk alone to school, today they were too scared,” Simon said.
The IDF on Friday retaliated by attacking terrorist targets across Gaza, including military and naval compounds belonging to the ruling Hamas terror group.