TEL AVIV, JAN. 18 -- As they began their Sabbath in or near their bomb shelters fearful of a widening war, Israelis tonight braced for another Iraqi missile attack, worrying that U.S. and allied air strikes may not have been able to knock out all of Iraq's mobile launchers, yet hoping that they had.

"There's nothing that I can describe like a man who has to endure all night hiding like an animal, shivering a little with a gas mask covering his face," said veteran Moshe Petter in a neighborhood store where he stocked up on food. "I can take so much, maybe another night or two, but not too much longer."

Air raid sirens screamed twice through Tel Aviv, tearing at residents' frayed nerves and sending them scrambling to their shelters.

In the first incident, sounded nation-wide, the alarm was called off after about 30 minutes, and an army command spokesman said that the alarm was triggered by a suspicious radar sighting.

The second alarm, only heard in this city, lasted about five minutes before the all-clear was given, and a spokesman said it was sounded when an object was detected that later turned out to be a "Soviet satellite."

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said the object in the sky was a "Soviet space booster rocket body" that was returning to earth. "It is a piece of space garbage," he said.

An army spokesman here said that if radar operators detect a suspicious object, they sound an alarm even if it could be something other than a Scud missile. "Instead of waiting to analyze the situation, they prefer to give the alarm. We should expect to have more of these," the spokesman said.

During the day, public works crews had cleared the last of the rubble from houses hit in a barrage of high-explosive Scud missiles early this morning, and rattled residents fortified their "safe" rooms and stocked provisions in anticipation of another attack.

"This was the first such experience for Tel Aviv since 1948. Why shouldn't we expect another {attack}, because the problem hasn't been solved yet," said Petter, 51, a public school teacher, as he purchased canned goods in one of the densely populated areas near the Mediterranean in south Tel Aviv. Petter's immediate neighborhood was not hit in today's missile attack.

However, Petter, like a number of Israelis interviewed, said he believes that it is still too early for the Israeli air force to get into the gulf war.

"I'd want the Americans to finish the job, if they can. They know the job best, and I think we would just interfere with the plans," he said.

One woman whose house in south Tel Aviv's Ezra district was damaged in the 2 a.m. attack, Farah Shour, 23, said she was going to pray tonight for no air raid sirens.

Recalling this morning's attack, she said, "we thought it was gas. We were in shock. I was shaking. I thought I was going to die."

Shour said only a few seconds lapsed between the time she heard the warning siren and the explosion of the missile, which landed in a field nearby, demolishing two bungalows and heavily damaging a row of two-story houses.

The military command said one unexploded missile crashed into a vacant apartment in Tel Aviv and that another severely damaged a textile factory on the outskirts of town. Missiles also fell on Haifa, north of Tel Aviv.

A woman who experienced the missile-hit on Ezra said when she heard the sirens she thought, "to hell with Saddam Hussein, I'm going back to sleep for a couple of hours." She said the next thing she remembers was the wall next to her bed collapsing on her and then frantically kicking aside bricks in search of her sister, who already had run to another part of the house.

Some survivors said that shortly after hearing the sirens there was an eerie hissing noise immediately before the missile exploded. One woman said she thought she saw the missile arching through the sky toward her neighborhood and thought it was "an airplane chasing another."

Although the seven missiles caused only 12 "light" injuries, according to authorities, it is the randomness of the damage caused by the relatively inaccurate but powerful Scud missiles that is so scary, residents said. Some likened the Scud to the German V-2 rockets used against Britain in World War II, which were intended to instill panic and break the morale of the civilians populations.

"When you hear the sirens, all you know is that something very big and powerful is coming toward you, and it makes you very afraid," said Simon Lavian, a storekeeper who lives in the Ezra district. "You don't know where it's going to land."

Israeli officials said that it is this terrorist characteristic of the Scud missile that will preclude Israel from tolerating many more attacks without taking retaliatory measures, despite U.S. pressure to stay out of the war.

"I don't detect right now a problem with morale from one night's attacks. But we need to make a quick decison based on the morale factor and many other factors. The question of morale will become more central if these attacks are allowed to go on," said Yossi Olmert, Israel's chief spokesman and the head of the government press office.

Olmert added, "In order for these attacks to succeed as a terror campaign, they have to go on over six or seven days. You know, Israel will not allow that to happen."

Although injuries directly resulting from the missiles' impact were minimal, three elderly people were reported to have suffocated from improper use of their government-issued gas masks. Civil defense authorities said they failed to remove a ventiliation cap on the filter of their rubber face masks and were apparently too panicked to take off the masks.

Also, one infant was reported to have died when its parents tried to protect it from possible exposure to gas. The missiles used in this morning's attack all had conventional high-explosive warheads, the army command said. Also, a number of people were taken ill when they injected themselves with atropine, an antidote to chemical weapons, the state radio said.

The normally bustling streets of Israel's largest city were virtually deserted tonight as most people appeared to heed warnings repeatedly issued on the radio to stay at home and be prepared to enter their gas-proof rooms in the event of another attack.

During the day, some Tel Aviv residents strolled along the city's beach, their gas masks hanging over their shoulders, while others lined up in front of the few open food stores to buy provisions.

The Rabbinical Counsel instructed Orthodox Jews to disregard normal Sabbath prohibitions and listen to their radios for civil defense advice during the weekend. Orthodox men were also told that they could shave their beards to assure a tight fit for their gas masks.