The rocket fire from the terrorists in Gaza onto Israel’s’ southern communities has not let up, despite the dearth of reports in the mainstream media. Last night (Saturday night) the missile fire caused a direct hit on a house in Netivot, and another Grad missile fell in open area in Beer Sheva. Several people were hurt, life was disrupted once again as schools were closed for security reasons, but there were miraculous escapes too.
Three Grad-type rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel late Saturday and early Sunday, with one rocket scoring a direct hit on a home in Netivot, Army Radio reported Sunday. A man who was inside in the Netivot home was not hurt, but the structure, and several neighboring homes, sustained massive damage.
Three people were hurt when they fell while running to a bomb shelter, and four more people were treated for shock.
Two rockets were launched overnight, with one hitting Netivot and the other striking the Beersheba area. The second rocket has not yet been located. Early Sunday, a third rocket exploded within Gaza territory, but not before setting off the warning siren in Ashkelon.
Schools were closed in Beersheba on Sunday morning, in accordance with the stated city policy: “If there is shooting, there is no learning.” Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich told Army Radio that “when there is doubt, I have to exercise responsible judgment.”
“There are quite a few buildings in our education system that are not protected. There is always a deliberation when it comes to these kinds of decisions, and we coordinate with the Homefront Command and security bodies. But when there is uncertainty, it cannot be completely eliminated,” Danilovich said.
He voiced hope that calm would soon be restored. “I don’t see the State of Israel retaliating, and that is the more serious issue, unfortunately,” he continued.
Ashdod’s school system was also closed on Sunday.
Netivot’s school system, however, was running as usual:
Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar told Army Radio that life in his city had returned to normal. He explained that his decision to operate schools as usual was in accordance with defense establishment recommendations.
“We have grown accustomed to such incidents and put our trust in the national authorities to provide solutions,” said Zohar.
The survivor of the destroyed house in Netivot says his survival is due to a miracle:
“This was a miracle,” said Grad missile attack survivor Pinny Azoulai, who was saved by an early-warning siren and a quick escape from his bedroom. The rocket slammed into one home and damaged a neighboring house.
Azoulai told Army Radio Sunday he was sleeping at the time of the attack.
“I heard the siren and jumped out of bed and then ran to the entrance of the house,” He then decided he would be better protected in the bathroom, a move which may have saved his life.
“Just as I entered the bathroom, there was a loud explosion. My heart still is beating fast,” he said. He was surrounded by the debris of the collapsed house, which was a total loss. Azoulai still suffers from ringing in his ears.
His brother Yuval said, “His escape was a miracle. We have lived in this reality for a long time,” he added. “This was a direct hit on the house, and we will not be living here for a long time.”
Ten people were treated for shock and physical injuries in the missile strikes on Netivot and later on Be’er Sheva, where the rocket fell in an open area.
Three people in Be’er Sheva suffered injuries when they fell while running to bomb shelters. Seven people, four in Be’er Sheva and three in Netivot, were treated for shock, and three people were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, according to Magen David Adom.
Miracles aside, Netivot’s residents justly complain that they are not protected by the Iron Dome anti-missile system:
A rocket attack that targeted Netivoton Saturday night has raised questions about the southern Israeli city’s readiness for such incidents.
One of the Grad rockets that were fired overnight severely damaged two homes, miraculously failing to injure anyone but causing several panic attacks. In the wake of the strike, residents said they were victims of discrimination.
“To find out this way that the Iron Dome no longer protects our city, it makes us feel like second-class citizens, like we don’t matter,” said Meir Shitrit, a resident who stopped to observe the aftermath of the blast. “Maybe because of Iran, Tel Aviv needs it more.”
He called for the deployment of the missile defense system across the region.
“We’re still at risk,” he said. “Now we understand what the residents of Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities go through,” he said.
Doron, a father of three, shared the sentiment.
“By now they should have installed an Iron Dome battery in every southern city,” he said.
In response to the missile fire, the Prime Minister promised retribution against the terrorists.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed retribution for rocket fire into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight Saturday, saying, “I am entirely obligated to make clear to the terrorists that they cannot fire rockets at Israel with impunity.”
At the opening of a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Jerusalem on Sunday, Netanyahu said, “You arrived on a day when our security is once again being tested…They paid a price in the past for these crimes and they will pay a price again,” Netanyahu stated, apparently promising a military response to the rocket fire.
Westerwelle stated that Germany condemns “every kind of terrorist attack against Israel. We stand together with Israel.”
Indeed, the IDF has been very busy against the Palestinian terror groups who are busy launching rockets and missiles against Israel:
On Wednesday night, IAF aircraft targeted a terrorist squad in the central Gaza Strip during final preparations to fire rockets at Israel. Palestinian sources said at least three men were killed in the air strike, and one wounded. The cell had been involved in rocket fire on southern Israel in the past, according to the IDF.
On Thursday morning, the IDF attacked a terrorist cell attempting to place a bomb on the Gaza border. Infantrymen from the Givati Brigade along with tanks and aircraft successfully struck the cell. Palestinian sources said that three people were killed by IDF fire in the incident.
But as the Netivot residents demand, it is about time their city was protected as well as Sderot. And it’s about time that our government took firm and decisive action against the terrorists in Gaza to put a stop once and for all to this rocket fire which makes life all but impossible for the citizens in the south of the country.