Former Norwich City striker Robert Earnshaw has found himself worryingly close to the rocket attacks and explosions of the current military tensions in Israel’s Gaza Strip.

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"Then we heard a loud bang of the Iron Dome – a new protection system used to intercept rockets. We then had to protect ourselves from all the shrapnel coming down."

Robert Earnshaw.

The Welshman, now 31 years old, is currently playing for Israeli Premier League side Maccabi Tel Aviv on a season-long loan from Cardiff City.

Mr Earnshaw, who scored 27 goals in 47 matches between January 2006 and June 2007 after joining City for £3.5m, has been forced to take shelter several times as rockets fly over Tel Aviv towards Gaza.

More than 95 people have died since Operation Pillar of Defence was launched last Wednesday.

With his two-year-old son visiting at the time, Mr Earnshaw also had to flee his car as he made his way to watch his side’s away tie with local rivals Bnei Yehuda.

But the former Canaries striker, who is currently out injured with a hamstring strain, instead decided to head back to his apartment to check on his family.

Mr Earnshaw said: “It has been a very strange and uncomfortable few days. These raids have taken us all by surprise. Tel Aviv is normally a great place to live with a great lifestyle outside of football.

“These attacks are rare even for the locals. I have been really enjoying my time here, but if I ever felt that myself, or my family, was in any danger I would have to reconsider things.”

A training session was also brought to an abrupt halt when a siren sounded and all the players, along with dozens of children, fled into their dressing rooms as a rocket was intercepted several hundred feet above their training camp.

Mr Earnshaw continued: “I looked over to my left and saw all the Israeli guys, who had all done three years’ service in the army. They knew exactly what was going on.

“One of them shouted that we had to take cover up by the side of the dressing rooms, so we just ran after them.

“Then we heard a loud bang of the Iron Dome – a new protection system used to intercept rockets. We then had to protect ourselves from all the shrapnel coming down.”

Then on Saturday Maccabi lost 1-0 at Beni Yehuda despite a raid taking place just 45 minutes before kick-off, with the 7,000 supporters who attended the game given emergency instructions.

“It was a stupid decision,” Mr Earnshaw added. “But it is amazing how quickly life returns to normal around here. It just shows how confident and determined these people are to get on with their lives.

“The army and defence system here still seems to be very good, but it’s not something I thought I’d have to experience in my football career. You don’t hear about the war in Tel Aviv. It’s a family-orientated place.

“Unless something major happens, I still want to play my football out here. I do miss Cardiff, but we are top of the league and I want to see us get into Europe.”

- Have you got a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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