Last night a Fajr 5 Iranian war rocket slammed into a relatively new appartment building in Rishon LeZion.
Rishon is basically a suburb of Tel Aviv to the south and on the coast. There’s a fantastic new IMAX and cinema complex there that I honestly believe to be the best cinema I’ve ever been to in the world. I saw the new Bond movie, Skyfall, there just a couple of weeks ago.
Last night a Fajr 5 penetrated Iron Dome and scored a direct hit on an apartment building that looks to be about the same age as the one I live in. Somewhere between 4 or 8 years old would be my guess. It has 6 stories whereas I live on the 7th floor of 9.
All new buildings in Israel are built with what is called a “Mamad” or safe room. These rooms are located in the centre of the building, usually near the lift shafts. They have four walls all of concrete. No plaster walls, of course and they have a strong, heavy steel door. The window (if the room has one as they often don’t) has a steel shutter that can be pulled to cover it. There are also facilities for sealing the room to protect from poison gas but fortunately, this time round, we’re not taking those precautions.
Apartments are expensive in Israel so most people use these rooms for a home office, maybe a child’s bedroom or any other use. They can be a bit oppresive if they have no windows. Even my safe room, which has a window, is fairly dingy as the window looks out to other parts of our building. You can see a small patch of sky but the view is obstructed. Right now, of course, its permanently sealed with the steel shutter.
This is just another example of why any talk of comparing casualty counts is so obscene. Building these rooms into EVERY NEW HOME is staggeringly expensive. We just do it. Imagine if London, Paris, New York or Damascus , all of which lack any kind of missile defence system like Iron Dome,and none of whose residents have a bomb shelter, had had over 1000 missiles shot at them in a week. If every missile landed there would be scores of wounded and a few dead from each one. We could have seen 2000 dead and 10,000 injured by now. Oh wait, Damascus has been under fire and, what a shock, dead people.
I have an admission to make. When the alarms sounded in Tel Aviv for the very first time, I was at home, alone. My wife and kids were eating pizza nearby, and I didn’t run to our room. I hung around near the door to my balcony which has a view to the south of most of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. I thought maybe I’d see something. When the alarm went silent and I still hadn’t seen anything I thought for a second, false alarm. Then my home shook with an impact and I realised how stupid I had been.
And exactly while I’m writing this I see another tweet like the following:
2 women saved by safe room as Palestinian rocket demolishes their home in Be'er Tuvia Regional Council— Yaakov Lappin (@YaakovLappin) November 21, 2012
So when the alarm sounds, if you have a safe room, you run for it no matter how remote you think the chances of something hitting you are. Which is why I personally find it hard to understand why anyone would hang around outside to film the following.