Following the fatal rocket barrage that struck Nazareth Monday, residents accused the government of failing to warn the mostly Arab population to take cover in bomb shelters when the Katyushas started flying. “If they had instructed us to enter protected areas, as they did in the Jewish towns, the tragedy might have been prevented,” Nazareth resident Tarek Kubati told Ynet, referring to the deaths of two brothers,
3 and 9, who were playing outside when the rockets hit Wednesday.
The rockets caught local residents unprepared, they related. “We knew it could happen to us too, but when no one is sounding the alarms or distributing instruction flyers, we just continued life as usual,” Kubati said.
Katyushas hit a number of locations in the town. The children’s home suffered a direct hit, and a garage in the town was also extensively damaged. A Magen David Adom spokesperson reported 12 wounded in the attacks on the area. The tragic deaths of the two children brought the civilian death toll since the beginning of fighting in the north to 16.
Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jaraisi told Ynet shortly after the fatal attack that the Home Front Command warned caution and gave the same general directives it gives to all threatened locales. “We held children’s day camps indoors today,” Jaraisi said. He noted the lethal rocket hit a very crowded area.
Barhoum Jaraisi, who lives in the neighborhood, agreed with Kubati. “When dealing with Arabs, the establishment doesn’t care if we get hit. We’re used to this. It’s nothing new,” he said. “When there were rocket strikes on Monday in Nazareth Illit nearby, their siren went off. But here no one was told to enter shelters. I called the police and asked why, and they said they’d get back to me.”
“No one has gotten back to me back yet,” he added.
In any case, Jaraisi said he had no plans to leave the town due to the situation. “I have a protected area in my house. I’ve instructed my family to use it, and that’s what we’ll do from now on,” he said.
‘Hizbullah doesn’t distinguish Jews, Arabs’
Kubati said he was at home when the Katyushas landed. “We heard a loud blast, and then another one, and I immediately understood these were Katyushas. Just two days ago Katyushas landed not far from here, and it was clear they could reach us too. Hizbullah fires without distinction, they don’t care whether we’re Arab or Jewish. For them the main goal is to cause damage, and today they did and caused a catastrophe.”
Kubati said that even after the rocket strikes, no one passed through the town telling residents to take shelter. “It doesn’t work here like in Haifa or any other Jewish town. No one tells us anything,” he reiterated.
Wednesday evening the streets of Nazareth did not empty of people, despite the fatal attack, and dozens of vehicles and hundreds of residents came out to check what happened.
“This is something new, people don’t know what a Katyusha looks like, what a missile looks like. No one thought it could happen to us too,” Kubati explained.
Police: We instructed local leaders
Amakim District Police chief Commander Yaakov Zigdon told Ynet that in recent days he and the regional police commander met with public leaders from the area.
He said in meetings with local council heads and mayors, police directed them in how residents should act in accordance with Home Front Command instructions.
“It is important the Nazareth residents understand that the rockets don’t distinguish ethnicity and religion. I call on everyone to listen to police directives. Stay near protected sites. We will continue to aid everyone,” he said.