During their trip to Israel, an 11-member City Council delegation that included Speaker Christine Quinn and four Queens Councilmembers were meeting with the mayor of Sderot when they heard the alarm sound signaling a rocket was approaching.
Earlier in the meeting, officials briefed the delegation that if the alarm went off, they had 20 seconds to move to the secure location - one floor away from the conference room they were meeting in.
The delegation, which included Queens Councilmembers Helen Sears, Melinda Katz, Leroy Comrie and David Weprin, hurried to the secure location, and seconds later some members heard the rocket explode about a mile from their location. The rocket landed near a clinic in the kibbutz village of Nir Am, according to Speaker Quinn, who briefed reporters during a conference call.
Quinn, who did not hear the alarm or the explosion, said that after the attack, the delegation toured the small one-story clinic where the rocket hit.
“All of the windows that faced where the rocket hit were completely shattered,” Quinn said, however, no one was injured in the attack.
The explosion occurred at about 4 p.m. Israeli time on Tuesday, February 6 while the delegation was meeting with Eli Moyal, the mayor of Sderot, an Israeli town of 20,000 just outside Gaza. Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured the same town during his trip to Israel nearly one week ago.
Although Quinn acknowledged that the narrow escape fazed members of her group bringing back memories when Councilmember James Davis was shot and killed in City Hall in July of 2003, she said that the group continued with their planned itinerary for the rest of the day - a measure she said many of the people they met with greatly appreciated.
Councilmember Katz agreed saying that she was impressed by seeing how the Israeli people handled the attack.
“It was a very surreal experience to see first-hand how the Israeli people cope with the constant attacks,” Katz said. “I was extremely impressed with their courage, resiliency, and care for one another.”
The delegation planned to proceed with their scheduled activities meeting with a number of representatives including ministers of education and touring a bomb shelter on Wednesday, before they return to New York Thursday, February 8.