English Welsh footballer Rob Earnshaw has learned what it’s like to experience a rocket attack in Israel. Not to mention the resilience of Israelis.
Wales striker Earnie is with Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv on a season-long loan from Cardiff.
But his move turned into a nightmare as the country descended into a warzone.
Hamas militants have increased the number of rockets fired at Israel’s major cities in retaliation for attacks on Gaza.
Earnshaw, 31, said: “Life was good out here until the last few days. Now it’s very different.
“The first Hamas attack I experienced came while we were in the middle of a training session.
“We were just kicking a few balls around when the warning sirens suddenly went off.
“The foreign boys like me did not have a clue what was going on until the local Israeli boys were shouting and screaming at us, ‘Come in, come in, come in. You have to take shelter’.
“Apparently you’ve got about 60 seconds to take cover. When they tell you that — and you hear the word ‘missiles’ mentioned — you move pretty fast!
“I was just thinking, ‘My God, what’s happening here?’
“Then literally 30-60 seconds after the sirens sounded there was a massive bang and an explosion.
“It really hit home that something major was going down. We were all wondering, ‘Was it a one-off or can we expect rockets and missiles raining down on us on a daily basis?’
“The run to the nearby bunker was the quickest training run of the day and even a few of the local lads were scared, more because they wanted to contact their families and make sure they were safe.
“This is not a normal situation, even for Tel Aviv, and it isn’t easy getting used to bombs and rockets being fired off in your direction.
“It’s the first time in 21 years that Tel Aviv has been attacked, I’m just unfortunate to be around when it’s happened!
“That was my first experience of the conflict and it’s not something a boy from South Wales can easily get used to.
“I used to think that Cardiff on a night out could get a bit lively. I can assure you it’s a lot livelier out here in Tel Aviv right now!”
Most of Earnshaw’s Israeli Maccabi team-mates remain reassuringly calm.
The former West Brom and Nottingham Forest forward added: “They spend three years in the army when they turn 18, so they are experienced under fire and know the drill.
“They told us about the Iron Dome, which is the defence mechanism they have for the major cities.
“It’s a sophisticated missile-defence system which detects heat from any missile or rocket launched towards the city.
“Then it shoots off two ground-to-air missiles which intercept them in mid-air.
“It’s amazing to think there are hundreds of rockets a day being launched at Tel Aviv, yet they have all been intercepted and there hasn’t been one casualty so far.”
Despite his team-mates’ expertise Earnie’s main concern was for his two-year-old son Silva, who had arrived days earlier with his sister Diane and was back home at his apartment.
He said: “When the rockets were going off, I wasn’t with them, which made it worse.
“Silva was too little to panic. He could obviously hear the noise but he had no idea what it actually was.
“But poor Diane didn’t know what had happened until I told her. She had looked out of the window to see people running for cover and had no idea there was a bunker she should have gone to.
“The amazing thing is that the local people just carry on with their life as normal. They are defiant and they don’t let the threat panic them.
“They have total confidence in the army and the defence systems in place.”
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