First Blood: Rocket War Intensifying on Israel’s South, 3 Injured, Hamas Claims Responsibility (Photos)
More than 80 rockets and mortars were fired at civilian targets from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday morning. Two foreign workers were critically wounded by a direct rocket hit, while working in chicken coops on a farm in the Eshkol region, which was badly hit. They were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, along with a third worker who was lightly wounded. In addition, a woman suffered minor injuries as she stumbled while running for shelter during a siren. Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In Eshkol, located in the northwestern part of the Negev, 30 rockets struck the region, hitting homes and damaging properties. One of the rockets hit a central electricity exchange box, cutting off several of the towns.
Ronit Minaker, the spokesperson for the Eshkol region, told Tazpit News Agency, that the normal routine of area residents was severely disrupted today. “Schools have been cancelled—children are home and parents have stayed home with them, missing work because of the rocket attacks,” she said.
“Five homes have been hit in the south, and there were children at home in some of them at the time. Families whose homes have been hit are now staying by their neighbors,” Minaker added.
Following this latest escalation, the military has canceled school sessions in many parts of the Negev. The students will learn online, and the teachers are making a special effort to identify students who are suffering from anxiety so that they receive the proper trauma care. Nachala, a student at Sapir College near Sderot, told Tazpit News Agency that she arrived for her morning classes, but was sent home. “I heard rocket explosions all night long. This morning, when I got to Sapir, we were told to go home because of the rocket threat. For me it wasn’t too bad, because I live nearby, but many of the students traveled from far to get to college classes, and they had to go back home.”
The IDF Home Front Command has instructed area residents who live within the radius of 10 kilometers of the Gaza border to take shelter and stay indoors.
The IDF Air Force attacked terrorist targets four times throughout Tuesday night. An IDF spokesman stated that a one of the cells was hit right after it fired a rocket. In another incident, the Air Force was successful in preemptively eliminating a strike. Palestinian sources reported several dead and wounded terrorists, one of them a member of Hamas’s Iz A-Din El-Kassam battalion. This is irregular, as Hamas has lately avoided partaking in rocket attacks against Israel.
This latest intensification follows a severe border attack on Tuesday, during which Givati Company Commander, Captain Ziv Shilo, was critically wounded by an IED bomb placed on the border fence, losing his arm. He is currently hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Beer Sheva hospital, fighting for his life. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak both stated that Israel would respond with severity to this attack.
Meanwhile, he “Iron Dome” anti-rocket system successfully intercepted seven rockets fired towards Ashkelon, a city of more than 120,000 residents.
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