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Israel woke up on Sunday morning and breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief

The most advanced missile defence system in the world, assisted by allies, managed to intercept hundreds of incoming attack drones and missiles

Late on Saturday night the first reports came in that the Iranian attack was under way. Hundreds of projectiles were already in the air and within a few hours would begin to enter Israeli airspace.

The shadow war between Israel and Iran, which has shaped the entire Middle East over the last few decades, was over. The conflict was no longer between Israel and a host of Iranian proxies: it was now a direct, and potentially deadly, confrontation between the region’s two biggest powers.

Just before 2am on Sunday morning, residents of Jerusalem were woken up by a series of loud explosions in the sky – the sound of intercepts. It sounded like it was above our heads but it may well have been in Jordanian airspace, some 30km to the east.

We rushed to the collective bomb shelter, shared by all the residents of our residential apartment building. Betty, a 100-year-old Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, told me on the way down the stairs: “I’ve got a lot of things to say about this, but I’ll have to speak Dutch.” Gallows humour, during the mad dash to the bomb shelter. Not surprisingly, Betty, accompanied by her daughter, was the last to enter the bomb shelter. As we closed the door she announced to the other neighbours: “Don’t worry, I survived the war-time bombing in Holland. It was much worse than this.”


We returned to our homes, following civil defence instructions, after the mandatory 10-minute wait, but, fearing the worst, we all thought we would be back and would maybe have to spend the entire night, if not the days ahead, in the shelter.

The reality was something entirely different. Israel’s layers of missile defence, the most advanced in the world, and Israeli planes, assisted by jets from western allies and Jordan, managed to intercept hundreds of incoming attack drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles – many of them hundreds of kilometers from Israel’s border.

Ninety-nine per cent of the projectiles were successfully intercepted. One nine-year-old Bedouin girl, hit by falling debris in the desert in the south of the country, is fighting for her life but she was the only significant casualty. One air force base suffered relatively minor damage.

Israel woke up on Sunday morning and breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief. Miracle was the most overused word, and not only by the religiously-observant.

By 7.30am Israeli airspace was reopened, although most foreign carriers have still not resumed flights, and residents were informed that they no longer had to stay close to a bomb shelter.

It might be only the latest chapter of the never-ending conflict and the Gaza war drags on with 133 hostages in Hamas captivity for more than six months. And, an even bigger conflict still looms on Israel’s northern border if Hizbullah fighters are not removed from the south Lebanese border zone.

But, despite this, the night of April 13th, will be remembered as one of Israel’s finest hours.