Belfast Telegraph

Queen's University professor flees missile attack in Israel

Queen's University's pro-vice chancellor has been forced to take cover in an Israeli air raid shelter after he was caught up in a missile attack.

Tony Gallagher is currently in Nazareth to speak about an education project, but earlier in Tel Aviv he found himself running for cover from missiles fired from Gaza.

On Sunday night Mr Gallagher met with PhD student Gareth Robinson, who had just returned to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, when sirens alerted them of an imminent attack.

“We were walking from the bus station to the hotel when we heard the sirens. It took a couple of seconds for us to realise what it was, then a few seconds more to realise we didn’t know where to go,” Mr Gallagher told the Belfast Telegraph.

“People on the street around us all bolted across the road and down an alleyway, so we followed them and ended up in the stairwell of an apartment block where we all waited to see what would happen next. Shortly after the sirens stopped we heard a loud explosion, although it seemed some distance away.

“We all waited a few more minutes then ventured back onto the street. Cars, bicycles, taxis and lorries had been abandoned by their drivers, some with their engines still running and the doors open. The drivers began to reappear and very soon things returned to an odd normality.”

Mr Gallagher said when he returned to his hotel it was reported on the local news that two missiles had been fired from Gaza towards Tel Aviv, but both had been intercepted by the Iron Dome, an anti-missile system operated by the Israeli Defence Force.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza soared above 100 yesterday on the sixth day of Israel's military operation despite frantic diplomatic efforts in Cairo to end the fighting.

Inside the beleaguered Hamas-controlled enclave, Israeli aircraft and artillery pounded what the army described as “terrorist targets”, but many civilians, including children, were among the victims.

The Israeli army said it had attacked 1,400 targets, including individual militants, weapons storage, production facilities and smuggling tunnels.

An Israeli strike on the Al-Shorouk tower block killed four of the most senior figures of militant group Islamic Jihad.

Hopes of an imminent ceasefire seemed slim yesterday as the Hamas leaders stuck to demands for a lifting of Israel's five-year blockade.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo to appeal for calm as Turkish and Qatari officials joined mediation efforts to end the hostilities.

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