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'Miracles' amid deadly rocket attacks in Israel

Hezbollah rockets have struck the Sea of Galilee town of Tiberias

TEL AVIV – With the Hezbollah terrorist group firing hundreds of deadly Katyusha rockets into Israeli population centers the past few days, stories here have been surfacing of citizens with close encounters who escaped unharmed.

“While the life of even one single person is precious and its loss is tragic nevertheless one cannot stand by and watch almost 1,000 rockets being fired into Israel, causing a death toll of only 18, and not be struck with awe at such a miracle,” Avraham Shmuel Lewin, a Tel Aviv rabbi, told WND.

Since Hezbollah provoked the current violence last Wednesday with a raid against an Israeli military patrol unit, the Lebanese militia has launched more than 700 rockets at northern Israeli towns, including Kiryat Shmona, Acre, Tiberias, Talal, Julis, Abu Snan, Kafr Yassif, Nahariya, Afula and the Jezreel Valley in lower Galilee.

Haifa, the third largest city, has been hit several times, including in a barrage today that killed one person.

More than 2 million Israelis – about one third of the the country’s population – are living under rocket threat.

Shturem.org, a newssite associated with the Chabad Lubavitch worldwide Jewish outreach movement, has documented missile attacks in northern Israel that came close to killing several citizens.

In one case, the 13-year-old son of a Jewish couple in the coastal town of Safed reportedly was almost hit by a Katyusha rocket on three separate occasions.

Erez and Ruti Huwritz, adherents to the Chabad sect, said they prepared a special bedroom in the basement of their house for their son, figuring if a rocket hit their home the lowest level would be the safest.

But a Katyusha scored a direct hit on their house last week while no one was home. The rocket penetrated all the way to the lower level of the structure and actually landed on their son’s bed. It split into two pieces; one exploded, the other didn’t. Security forces found a picture – entirely in tact – of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, under part of the rocket that hit the bed.

The day before, a Katyusha landed a few feet from the Hurwitz house. Their son was thrown off his bed by the blast but was unharmed.

Last Friday, the Hurwitz boy visited non-religious neighbors to remind them to light Sabbath candles. He was outside when a Katyusha hit a car a few yards away, demolishing the vehicle completely and sending shrapnel in various directions. The boy was again unharmed.

“One of the soldiers told me Friday, ‘I don’t know who is watching over this child,'” said Ruti Hurwitz.

In another case last week, a rocket landed in the backyard of a Safed apartment complex. Shrapnel penetrated through the fourth-floor apartment of Safed residents Ron and Rivkie Shtorch. A large metal fragment flew through their window and landed less than two feet above their sleeping infant’s head. The infant was safe.

In Tiberias this week, a rocket demolished the home of the parents of Chabad representative Yisroel Heber. Haber’s parents were out of the house at the time.

“This is an open miracle,” said Haber.

Still, not all stories involving Katyusha rockets had happy endings. One person died in a rocket attack today. Eight people were killed Sunday morning when a Hezbollah rocket struck an Israel Railways deport in Haifa. Another person was killed the same day in Akko. Last week, Hezbollah rocket attacks killed four Israelis, including a woman drinking coffee on her balcony. The attacks have wounded hundreds of Israelis, some seriously, including in one barrage that collapsed a building and another attack that struck a hospital.

Even Israel’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv, is now under rocket threat. Tel Aviv is about 90 miles south of the Lebanese border.

Until the latest round of fighting began last Wednesday, Israeli and other intelligence agencies publicly estimated Hezbollah’s missile arsenal had a maximum range of approximately 45 miles. But Israeli officials now say Hezbollah has rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and beyond.

The army told Tel Aviv residents that in the event of an incoming rocket, a siren will wail, alerting the public to seek shelter inside in a protected room or an area away from doors, windows and exterior walls.

Those caught outside at the time of the siren should enter a stairwell or get close to a wall or shelter and lie down, the army recommended.

Still, with rockets flying into northern towns, Lewin, based in Tel Aviv, maintains it is safe to visit Israel.

“The massive rocket bombardment has caused very few casualties when you think about it,” said Lewin. “This just proves what the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Schneerson) had been saying all along, that Israel is the safest place in the world. He quotes the Torah verse in Deuteronomy that says, ‘God’s eyes gaze on the Holy Land from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.’

“During the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam fired Scud missiles into Israel, many people had asked the Rebbe whether they should visit Israel or cancel their plans. The Rebbe replied: “God forbid, do not cancel any plans. Travel to Israel. It is the safest place in the world … .”

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