Israeli defense system intercepts four rockets above Tel Aviv

BY newsdesk  July 16, 2014 at 9:25 AM EST
People leave a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, after hearing a rocket siren on July 15. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

People leave a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, after hearing a rocket siren on July 15. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted four rockets over the Tel Aviv area Wednesday morning, after the military bombed the homes of several Hamas leaders overnight.

Justin Kenny, the PBS NewsHour’s foreign affairs and defense editor who is in Tel Aviv, described what happened:

“Shortly after 9 a.m., I was walking with my wife near Tel Aviv’s main hospital complex (a short distance away from the Defense Ministry) when the rocket sirens began to blare. We looked around and saw the closest shelter was a deli/convenience store set back a few hundred feet from the sidewalk. We sprinted inside and the clerk said that there wasn’t a shelter but pointed us towards the back as there wasn’t time to go to another location. We stood huddled away from a window against a wall with three other people.

“Within a few seconds of getting in place, loud booms began as the rockets (the military wing of Hamas claimed that they were self-made M75 missiles) were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. I could literally feel each of the four booms in my chest (much more intense than the three intercept episodes I experienced earlier this week).

“After the sirens stopped, we waited a few moments to allow time for debris to fall down from the sky. When we got outside, we could see the smoke patterns of the intercepts. One was nearly straight above us (just a few blocks South). On the street, people slowly got back into vehicles and traffic resumed.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have distributed leaflets, automated phone calls and text messages telling about 100,000 Gaza Strip residents to leave their homes by 8 a.m. local time and head south ahead of more airstrikes.

Previous strikes in Gaza reportedly have hit the headquarters of the Interior Ministry and the homes of Hamas leaders, witnesses said.

The death toll of Palestinians was more than 200 on Wednesday, and one Israeli has died in the nine-day conflict.