TEL AVIV, JAN. 25 -- Iraq launched a salvo of seven Scud missiles at Israel tonight, prompting a barrage from Patriot air defense batteries to meet them and scattering lethal shrapnel around Tel Aviv. At least one person was reported killed and more than 65 injured.

Military officials said the majority of the incoming Scuds, the fifth Iraqi missile attack on Israel in eight days, had been hit by Patriots that were airlifted to the country by the United States beginning last weekend to provide a line of defense for Israeli cities. However, officials said damage reported in several areas could have been caused by Scud warheads, fragments or even Patriots that missed.

Despite the new casualties, which raised to at least 195 the number of Israelis injured by Iraqi Scud attacks, the army's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, said Israel would continue its policy of postponing any action against Iraq by its own military forces. "We have the ability to hit back, but we have a long-term interest in holding back now," he said on Israel television. "If we try to be rational, there's no other way."

The sky over Tel Aviv lit up with incoming Scud missiles, seen against the low cloud cover as bright points of light, and Patriot missiles arcing toward their targets directly over the sprawling Mediterranean city before bursting into balls of fire. As sirens wailed and residents fled to their gas-resistant shelters, a series of powerful explosions in the air and on the ground reverberated through the city.

As one incoming missile streaked toward south Tel Aviv at what appeared to be an altitude of a few hundred feet, two Patriot rockets flashed toward it and then abruptly turned about 120 degrees and followed it into a dense cloud. One missile, apparently a Patriot, flashed into the sky and then appeared to nose-dive into the ground.

One two-story house in a well-to-do neighborhood of greater Tel Aviv was flattened by an explosion, and rescue workers pulled out at least two occupants, who were taken to a hospital. An hour after the missile attack, a heavy crane was being used to remove slabs of concrete as police dogs searched for more survivors.

The outside walls of the house next door were peeled away by the impact, exposing the interior, and another house behind the lot was wrecked. Windows and doors of scores of houses in a four-block radius were blown in by the impact.

In the city of Haifa, north of Tel Aviv, an incoming Scud was hit squarely by a Patriot, and no damage or casualties were reported, Israel army radio said.

Army spokesman Gen. Nachman Shai said a survey of Tel Aviv would have to be done during daylight hours Saturday to determine what damage had been caused and how. He said at least two Patriot missiles had been fired at every incoming Scud.

Some officials tonight said the results of the attack suggested that Patriots could not fully defend Israel even if they hit their Scud targets because of the resulting spray of debris. "If you have sirens wailing and things falling and hitting people, who cares if it's a Scud or a piece of one, or a Patriot?" one official said.

{U.S. officials in Saudi Arabia said Iraq appears to fire Scuds at Saudi and Israeli cities at times when it is cloudy, apparently because cloud cover makes it easier to hide missile launchers from allied aircraft.}

Shai said Israeli officials had no choice but to station Patriot batteries where they are now deployed, indicating that it was not possible to shoot down incoming missiles before they approached their targets in populated areas. The batteries, he said, "are in the right places. For the time being, there is no reason to move these batteries."

Four Patriot batteries were reported deployed around Israel by Thursday, and the army said today that more of the missiles were airlifted to the country today. Israel television showed two batteries being unloaded from a U.S. C-5 cargo plane this morning. Reports have said as many as 12 batteries will eventually be shipped to Israel.

Foreign Minister David Levy said German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who ended a visit here today, relayed a German offer to supply Patriot batteries to Israel. Levy did not say whether the offer would be accepted.

Shai said the Patriots now arriving would be deployed in parts of Israel not covered by the missile defense. So far, the more than 20 Iraqi Scuds fired at Israel have been aimed only at Haifa and greater Tel Aviv, which are covered by the Patriot system.

Shai said the Scuds were launched from western Iraq, where, he said, both mobile and fixed missile launchers are still deployed. "The Iraqi capacity to launch still exists," he said. "It's a smaller one than at the beginning of the war, but it's still there."

Some hard-line cabinet ministers and military officials have been pressing for Israel to launch its own operations against the Iraqi launchers, arguing that the air force would be more effective than U.S. or other planes in the American-led anti-Iraq coalition. However, Shomron dismissed the possibility on television tonight, saying, "Anyone who thinks Israel could do a quick job and finish it is mistaken."

Shomron praised the action of U.S. forces and said they would eventually destroy both the missile launchers and the overall Iraqi military machine. "America is fighting hard," he said. "But I have to say, it takes time."

The Scuds fired at Israel tonight again carried conventional high-explosive warheads rather than the chemical weapons for which Israel has designed its civil defenses. Citizens have been advised during attacks to go to sealed rooms in their homes and put on gas masks, rather than enter the public bomb shelters present in every neighborhood.

Shai said tonight that there would be no change in the country's civil defense strategy, because authorities believe Iraq could still try to attack Israel with chemical bombs.

In the Tel Aviv area tonight, residents said they barely had time to rush for shelters and sealed rooms before the explosions started. A 16-year-old youth who lives in a street behind the most heavily damaged houses said he had just reached his shelter and had begun to put on his gas mask when the neighborhood was rocked by two explosions.

His father said, "We will keep living, with Saddam or without Saddam," referring to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Under Israeli army censorship rules, neither the names of survivors nor the locations of damaged buildings can be disclosed.

One resident of the same neighborhood said, "When I heard the siren, I went to the shelter. When I closed the door, I heard the terrible noise and then another." One explosion, louder than the other, apparently was a Scud missile hitting the house that was flattened and the second appeared to have been a fragment of a missile.

One woman in the neighborhood said she had heard explosions during previous missile attacks over the past eight days and had been afraid, but did not believe one would strike near her house. "We have experienced only fear before. Now we have experienced the real thing," she said.

A deep crater was dug alongside a school in another part of the city, and part of one wing of the school building was destroyed. Cars hit by shrapnel were seen burning in several parts of the city.

In one Tel Aviv residential neighborhood, a missile -- or part of one -- tore through the roof of a four-unit apartment building, wrecking the building and injuring several occupants but killing none. A synagogue across the street was damaged in the blast.