HAIFA, Israel – A barrage of Hezbollah rockets crashed into Haifa on Sunday, killing at least three people and wounding more than 40, officials said, in the heaviest attack on the port city since fighting with the Lebanese-based militia began nearly four weeks ago.
It was unclear how many rockets fell on Israel's third-largest city, but fire department spokesman Chezi Levi said one crowded residential district suffered five or six hits, and there were many casualties.
At least two houses collapsed, and rescue workers and bystanders dug through the debris to pull out the wounded and search for survivors.
Eli Bein, the director of the Magen David Adom rescue service, said one person was killed immediately and two more people died in hospital from their wounds. Other emergency officials said more than 40 people were wounded, and dozens more suffered shock. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld put the number of lightly injured at 120.
One rocket fell between two buildings in a residential area on Mt. Carmel near the landmark Bahai Temple and several major tourist hotels, injuring six Israelis and knocking down electrical lines. Glass littered the road, and a score of cars were damaged.
"I heard a huge boom and all the windows in my apartment were shattered. It's the first time it happened in this area of the city but I knew anything is possible," said Yossef Yikutieli, 78, who lives across the street from the worst hit buildings.
Two or three residential areas were reported to have been hit. Smoke rose high over the city from the attack, which came shortly after dark.
It was the most damaging attack so far on Haifa, but not the deadliest. One rocket on a train station killed eight people on July 16 — a toll surpassed only earlier Sunday when a rocket killed 12 people outside the agricultural village of Kfar Giladi about 40 miles northwest of Haifa.