Israeli police officers stand at the sea front promenade in Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv, on Thursday after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the sea nearby.
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Tel Aviv, long described as a bubble by other Israelis for its laid-back style and alleged intellectual distance from the country's daily tribulations, got a wake-up call Thursday night.
For the first time since the Iraq war in 1991, the sirens screamed, warning of a rocket attack, this time from the Gaza Strip.
The bubble burst big-time, if only for a moment, and if only for some.
Children, rushed to the shelter by their anxious parents, burst into tears. People slammed on the brakes of their cars and raced to find a bomb shelter. Others, caught in the open, lay flat on the ground with their hands covering their heads.
The warning time for a Fajr 5 missile carrying a 165-lb. warhead rocketing the 50 miles from Gaza to Tel Aviv is 90 seconds. That is a minute-and-a-half to understand what is happening and find safety -- better than some of the towns in the south, which have only a 15-second warning.
But the 400,000 residents of Israel's largest city got off lightly. One rocket fell harmlessly into the sea, and two more landed in open areas. People in the coastal city said the booms were horrific.
At least on other missile fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv landed off the city's coast on Friday, police said.
Source: NBC News | Martin Fletcher