Former Londoner caught up in Hamas terror attacks

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Former Londoner caught up in Hamas terror attacks

Clive Hart and his wife Tamar experienced a terrifying Shabbat in Sderot with sirens, rockets and gunfire

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Clive Hart with his wife Tamar
Clive Hart with his wife Tamar

An ex-Londoner who went to stay with his wife’s family over the Shabbat and Simchat Torah weekend found himself unexpectedly caught up in the Hamas terrorist attack in southern Israel.

Clive Hart and his wife live on one side of the southern Israeli town of Sderot — in the area closer to the Gaza Strip — while her sister and brother-in-law live on the other side of Sderot.

As Mr Hart explained, the family had gathered in two apartments in one building. “There were other relatives from outside the area — there were around a dozen in all”.

When the sirens sounded early on Saturday morning it was decided that most people “should hole up in the upstairs, second-floor flat. A couple of brave souls stayed on the ground floor, in the garden flat, but we thought that it was too easy for people to enter over the fence and get in to the ground floor”.

Mr Hart and his wife were among 10 family members in the upstairs apartment. From its windows, he said, they could see “lots of rockets” and hear gunfire. They also spotted men “piling in [to Sderot] in jeeps”, which he said were typical of the white backless jeeps driven in Gaza.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the family could see “lots of soldiers and police searching through scrubs and fields. There’s a building site opposite the apartment block and they were obviously trying to see if anyone [from Hamas] was hiding there”. At least one of the jeeps was tracked down by Israeli army and police and its driver and passengers were, Mr Hart assumed, killed.

He said that communication — including instructions to citizens to stay at home — had not been a problem until on Sunday morning, half of Sderot’s power was cut. It meant that there was no internet, no TV news, and, crucially, no possibility of charging phones, so the family were running out of phone contact one by one.

By late afternoon on Sunday, a cousin of Mrs Hart, who is a serving police officer in Tel Aviv but who lives in an apartment building next to the Harts, was helping out in Sderot. He offered “an armed escort” if the couple wanted to return home, which they accepted.

Clive Hart was brought up in Wembley, made aliyah after university and served in the army many years ago, and then returned to Britain for work purposes. He and his wife went back to Israel just over a year ago and settled in Sderot. She is a primary school teacher while he works in the sports industry in both Britain and Israel, but both face an uncertain future, as all schools in Israel have been closed for the time being and all the European qualifying matches due to be played in the country have been cancelled.

“We’re just going to have to hunker down and wait it out. I can’t picture anything of any normality for the next while”, he told Jewish News.

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