Israelis and Palestinians recall long night of powerful Iranian missile attacks

Powerful explosions were heard throughout the night as Iran fired series of salvos

Passengers wait to check-in in the departure terminal in Ben Gurion airport on the morning after a drone and missile attack from Iran. Bloomberg
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Israelis went about their day in a mood of relief but also great uncertainty on Sunday, hours after Iran launched a direct attack on Israel that lit up skies all over the Holy Land in the early hours.

“A friend told me that one of the most popular searches on Google in Israel was ‘tehelim’, meaning psalms,” says Sarah, a writer from Jerusalem, who ran for shelter with her young son in a stairwell as sirens blared out across Jerusalem.

“It was a feeling of terror and grief at the same time but we knew the Americans had our backs. So it became this uncanny Hollywood movie moment, like Independence Day but Iranian drones were the aliens.”

'We don't want a war with Iran': Israelis react to missile attack

'We don't want a war with Iran': Israelis react to missile attack

Iran launched about 350 projectiles – made up of drones and ballistic and cruise missiles – at Israel, the vast majority of which were intercepted by Israeli and allied air defence systems in the region. One child was seriously injured by shrapnel.

Israel is convening its war cabinet as the region waits on edge to see whether an immediate, large-scale counterattack is on the horizon.

“The Iranians got a very clear response from all of this: Israel is not alone. The war was reframed last night as a potential regional conflict and we saw our allies step up, even Jordan,” Sarah says.

Despite a remarkably successful interception rate, Jerusalem residents in particular told The National about their surprise that the city, which typically comes under fire less often than Tel Aviv, was affected.

“My friends in the Old City saw the interceptions,” says Hania, a resident of East Jerusalem. “Usually my area is busy, it’s Sunday and there’s no school. Today it’s much quieter than usual, even though all the shops are open."

Adel, who lives in the north of Israel close to the tense border with Lebanon, heard loud booms throughout the night. “It was terrifying for two reasons,” he says.

This is the first time we’re seeing something of this scale. As a Palestinian, it’s good to see that there’s some sort of recollection that this is happening for the sake of Palestinians in Gaza. But then there’s a feeling that the person who is capable of saving you, in this case Iran, is also capable of killing you in the same stroke.

“Seeing the footage from Jerusalem, that first image – if you were an Israeli you would be terrified. It meant Iran saying to you that 'we can hit you, any place at any time'.”

Hania, who is also Palestinian, had similarly mixed feelings, given her anger at the suffering in Gaza and the lack of help from the international community.

“The world will not stay quiet about what is happening,” she says. “Israel thinks it is the only power in this land. Do they think people will stay quiet while Gaza is happening? While Israel attacks embassies in Damascus? We are no longer scared.”

Updated: April 15, 2024, 2:39 PM