TEL AVIV (Feb. 10)
An Iraqi Scud missile that struck Israel early Saturday morning injured 26 people, none seriously, but did tremendous damage to residential property.
Although the Israel Defense Force did not pinpoint the impact site, radio reports identified it as an “upper middle-class residential area of a Greater Tel Aviv suburb.”
Eleven homes were totally destroyed by the high-explosive conventional warhead and at least a dozen others were damaged beyond repair.
A total of 500 homes, mainly one and two-story villas, had varying degrees of damage. People rendered suddenly homeless were accommodated at nearby hotels.
Widespread damage over a large area was reported to doors, windows and especially tiled roofs.
At least one Patriot anti-missile missile was fired at the intruding Scud. The IDF would not confirm a hit. Although there was a large crater at the impact site, much of the damage appeared to have been done by falling debris, which indicated that a Patriot had intercepted a Scud in midair.
The missile was the 31st fired into Israel from western Iraq since Jan. 18. It hit at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, ending a six-day full in which no missile attacks occurred and life had begun to return to normal in the Greater Tel Aviv area, which has been the prime target of the Iraqi attacks.
The property damage appears to have exceeded that done by the Scud missile that hit Ramat Gan on Jan. 22, which destroyed or damaged 20 buildings and injured 70.
The local municipality has put shipping containers at the disposal of bombed-out residents, to store whatever furniture and household items can be salvaged from the wreckage of their homes.
ALTERCATION AMONG RESCUE AUTHORITIES
Meanwhile, the IDF, civil defense and fire brigade authorities are investigating an altercation between firefighters and the civil defense’s Special Disaster Rescue Squad at the blast site, a dispute that ended in fisticuffs.
The fire brigade reached the impact site first and set about putting out fires and searching the ruins for survivors.
The firefighters also set up emergency lighting and communications, necessary because all of the electrical and telephone lines in the area had been knocked down.
When the Emergency Rescue Squad arrived, its commander ordered the firefighters out of the area. According to regulations, the Emergency Rescue Squad has full command of a disaster area. But the firefighters reportedly refused to leave because they were in the middle of rescue operations.
The Emergency Squad commander reportedly assaulted the fire chief, breaking three of his teeth. The commander was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.