After a brief overnight break, a new barrage of missiles from Gaza rained down on southern Israel in the early-morning hours on Wednesday, with attacks aimed at central cities resuming by mid-day. While most rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile-defense system, a 70-year-old woman was injured by glass shards when an elder care facility in the coastal city of Ashkelon suffered a direct hit. She was taken to the city’s Barzilai Medical Center for treatment for injuries, which were not life-threatening.

Attacks were also reported inland. “I was awakened early in the morning by a loud boom, and at first I didn’t know what it was,” Nechama Bergman of Tarom, a village just north of Bet Shemesh, told Chabad.org. “By 8:13 a.m., about an hour later, there were two more.”

She learned from authorities and neighbors that the three explosions were rockets that had landed in neighboring communities, including Kfar Uria. Security officials then issued a directive for area residents to stay in their homes until further notice, she said. They were permitted to leave a few hours later.

More than 220 rockets have been fired at Israel since early Tuesday morning, and retaliatory strikes at Islamic Jihad launch and missile production sites in Gaza intensified on Wednesday, killing more than 20.

Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries throughout Israel continued their efforts to encourage and enable people in their communities and around the nation to increase in mitzvahs, prayer and faith in G‑d in response to the attacks.

In Tel Aviv, the 50 Chabad centers around the city again set up public tefillin tables to perform the mitzvah with as many men as possible. Volunteers from Chabad centers again provided help at a popular soup kitchen in Tel Aviv’s working-class neighborhood of Hatikva to accommodate additional patrons seeking food and shelter.

“We continue to see miracles upon miracles,” said Rabbi Yosef Gerlitsky, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Tel Aviv. “With all the explosions and rockets, there have been few reported serious casualties or serious damage.”

“We were also surprised to see not less, but more men than usual, showing up to learn at a special kollel (Torah learning institute for adult men) program we have for the elderly,” he added.

New tefillin stations have popped up around Israel since the rocket fire began on Nov. 12. Here, Rabbi Yosef Gerlitsky helps a teen put on tefillin in Tel Aviv.
New tefillin stations have popped up around Israel since the rocket fire began on Nov. 12. Here, Rabbi Yosef Gerlitsky helps a teen put on tefillin in Tel Aviv.

Security officials said they expected the attacks to continue for at least a few days and banned large gatherings after the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirmed that Abu al-Atta, its northern Gaza Strip commander, had been killed, and continued their vow to avenge his death. The terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is often at odds with PIJ, claimed solidarity with the group.

The rocket attacks started at around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, mostly focused on Israeli towns and cities near the Gaza border. Soon after, sirens sounded in the Tel Aviv suburbs of Rishon Lezion and Holon. Later in the morning, sirens blared in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and Holon, as well as in nearby Modi’in. Officials called upon specially trained mental-health workers in Jerusalem and the north to travel to the impacted areas and administer trauma therapy to people shaken by the rocket invasions.

Reassurance During Uncertainty

Given the pre-dawn timing, frequency and range of Red Alert sirens, there was widespread uncertainty and fear in much of the country, especially in areas unaccustomed to being under attack. The sound of bombs could be heard as far away from Gaza as the city of Lod, near Ben-Gurion International Airport.

“I just woke up and my husband said there is a war going on, and everyone was running around the house screaming,” said Lod resident Chana Benharosh. “Then my office Whatsapped to say that due to the safety situation, there was no work today. It was hard to tell what was happening, and I was afraid to leave the safe room.”

Despite the widespread fear, after a direct hit at a home in Sderot and with the sound of gunfire from Gaza nearby, Rabbi Moshe Ze’ev Pizam, director ofChabad of Sderot, stood alongside a group of worshippers outside a synagogue before Tuesday-morning services and confidently stated that they were in the safest town in Israel, repeating the assurance of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—that Israel was the safest place in the world.

“We enter the morning prayers with joy and confidence in G‑d,” said Pizam. “‘The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.’

Rabbi Moshe Ze'ev Pizam, director of Chabad of Sderot, before morning prayer services on Tuesday morning. He is standing in front of a menorah made of shell casings of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip.
Rabbi Moshe Ze'ev Pizam, director of Chabad of Sderot, before morning prayer services on Tuesday morning. He is standing in front of a menorah made of shell casings of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip.