An Indian caregiver in Ashkelon, Israel, recounts what he saw the day Israel saw its worst attack by land, air and sea.
Text: Archana Masih/Rediff.com
Videos: Kind courtesy Ellv Prasad
Every time people in Israel hear a siren, they know what to do next:
Run to the bomb shelter inside their homes or the community shelters located nearby.
If driving, stop the car and lie down on the sidewalk.
"Within 30 seconds of hearing the alarm, we have to take refuge in the safe room. We come out after 3-5 minutes," says Ellv Prasad, a native of Telangana who has worked are a caregiver in Ashkelon, Israel, for nearly 15 years.
Ashkelon is located 22 kilometres from the Gaza Strip, controlled by the militant group Hamas that launched a massive attack on Israel early on Saturday morning which was a big Jewish holiday.
WATCH: Smoke-filled sky en route from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon on Saturday morning
Mr Prasad had seen previous attacks where missiles had been fired and repelled in the sky by Israel's Iron Dome Missile System, but what happened on Saturday had never happened before.
"Sometimes small pieces of the missile can fall after they are repelled by the Iron Dome and we have to be careful."
"But on Saturday when people were asleep after a celebratory festival dinner, Hamas fired 3,000-5,000 missiles in different directions."
"It was a massive attack. The worst attack in 50 years. The situation has never been so bad. Since they have also infiltrated through land, parachute and small boats, the mayor of Ashkelon has ordered that we don't open the door to unknown people. Everything is closed and we have to stay inside unless an emergency," says Mr Prasad over a WhatsApp call on Sunday evening.
WATCH: Buildings and cars suffered damage in the attack
Mr Prasad is a caregiver for an elderly Israeli man. It was his weekend off and he was returning from Tel Aviv in the morning when the attack began.
On his way he kept looking at the smoke filled sky and kept a look out for rockets from his windshield and front window.
There were hardly any vehicles on the road. The journey to Ashkelon which usually took 45 minutes on any other day was covered in half the time.
"I just wanted to reach quickly because I knew I will be safe when I get home."
When he reached home, there was no electricity supply. Power was restored a few hours later. Since his phone was discharged and he knew his anxious family in India would be calling, he turned the car on in order to charge the phone.
One rocket had fallen not far from the residential area where he lives with his elderly employer.
WATCH: Part of a missile that landed nearby.
"It did not burst. We can make out the difference when a missile explodes in the air or on the ground," he says.
Another struck the building where a friend lives.
An Indian lady caregiver known to him from Kerala was injured and has undergone surgery. She has been shifted to a hospital near Tel Aviv for further treatment, he says.
Since the attack, Mr Prasad has been inside the house, making sure that the doors and windows are secure. The authorities have asked people to remain vigilant about Hamas kidnapping Israelis as hostages.
"I have got a good stock of groceries and vegetable so I do not have to go out," he says.
Yesterday, Mr Prasad says he could hear the rockets till 3 am.
His wife and family are worried about him and are constantly in touch. He last visited them in February and comes to India once a year for a couple of months. He has travelled to several places in Israel and says the people have been good to him.
He just hopes that that the war ends.