An unidentified object thought to be a small meteor fell from the sky on one of Bat Yam's beaches, just south of Tel Aviv, Saturday afternoon, Ynet has learned.
No injuries were reported, but witnesses said the object fell very close to the lifeguard booth and caused a small fire. The meteorite landed in a beach earmarked for religious visitors that features separate swimming times for men and women.
Lifeguards and the small object (Photo: Ilan Lilush, Tel Aviv Police)
The beach was crowded at the time of the incident, and many visitors gathered around the object after it landed.
Police said the object was a meteor and sappers headed to the scene in order to look into the celestial object.
The lifeguard who saw the meteorite land, Yisrael Rokach, told Ynet: "In the morning, as always, I embarked on a patrol in the water…when I returned towards the beach I spotted a small object landing from above and starting to burn."
"At first I didn't understand what happened; I thought someone threw it down from above," the lifeguard said. "When I got closer I saw a small object that kept on burning and smoking. I immediately called my fellow lifeguards, who didn't believe me. They came down and at the same time we called the police."
Another lifeguard, Yossi Mizrahi, said: "The meteorite kept on burning and gave off an odd smell. It kept on burning even when we put it in the water and it melted seashells as if they were candles."
Mizrahi added that the object did not make any noise when it landed and that there were no sounds of an explosion at the site.
"Fortunately nobody was hurt by it, as the beach was crowded," he said.
Chairman of the Israeli Astronomical Association, Igal Patel, said the object was a meteorite.
"Meteorites fall all the time, but one falling in a residential area before the eyes of witnesses is indeed a rare occurrence," he said.
Patel added that most meteorites are burned up by the atmosphere, but "once in many years you can see a fireball falling in a populated area".
Shmulik Grossman contributed to this report