Since Tuesday night, Hamas has fired over 80 rockets into Israel with approximately 30 rockets throughout the course of Wednesday according to the IDF. Rockets struck throughout southern Israel, with one directly hitting a home in Ashkelon today and a shopping mall yesterday.
The armed Abdul Qader Husseini Brigades of the Fatah movement to which the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, claimed responsibility for two rocket attacks on Ashkelon on Wednesday morning, August 20.
Following the rocket salvo, Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center on Wednesday had its premature babies and newborns transferred to sheltered areas both underground and into a special delivery room located in a concrete bomb shelter for the babies’ protection.
“We’ve transferred 14 premature newborn and 30 newborns as well as five mothers who just had caesarean sections, to more protected areas in the hospital,” the Medical Director of Barzilai Medcial Center, Dr. Chezi Levy told Tazpit News Agency.
“We are trained for these kinds of war situations and we’re waiting to see what develops following the renewed rocket attacks,” Dr. Levy told Tazpit. “We are working closely with army officials in assessing the situation and deciding what our next steps will be. This is not the first time that the hospital has had to undergo security precautions but we definitely hope it will be the last.”
Barzilai Medical Center, established in 1961, has 300 doctors, 700 nurses and 532 patients according to the center’s spokeswoman, Ayelet Kedar.
Two weeks ago, on August 7, when the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect, the Ministry of Health and the Home Front Command announced that Barzilai Medical Center would return to full normal activity, setting new dates to all patients whose appointments were postponed during the Protective Edge Operation. Today the hospital is carefully monitoring the current escalation of rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and is acting cautiously, hospital officials told Tazpit.
In other news, the Israel Home Front Command issued new security instructions on Tuesday night, August 19 for southern Israelis, forbidding the gathering of over 300 people in communities within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip. Gatherings of 500 people within 40 kilometers of Gaza have also been cancelled. Other security measures include the closing of beaches and urban markets in the south as well, while public bomb shelters were reopened in communities located 40-80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from the Gaza Strip.
Local authorities in central Israel also ordered the opening of public bomb shelters a few hours after Hamas violated the ceasefire on Tuesday, August 19, with rocket attacks on Beersheba. The mayors of Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv ordered the opening of public bomb shelters on Tuesday night, when minutes later a heavy salvo of rocket fire from Gaza began.
Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades fired rockets at central Israel and claimed that it fired the Iranian Fajr 5 missiles at central Israel and the M-75 missile at Jerusalem on Tuesday night, where sirens were heard shortly before midnight. Eight rockets targeted Tel Aviv on Tuesday night and a strike from a rocket was found in the Beit Shemesh area.
The Iron Dome intercepted at least five rockets heading for residential areas throughout the night and several more during Wednesday including one over Kiryat Malachi and over the Hof Ashkelon region.
Hamas breached the Egyptian-brokered truce on Tuesday afternoon, August 19, seven hours before it was supposed to end, firing a salvo of rockets at Be’er Sheva and southern Israel.