On Monday morning Gazan terrorists launched 55 mortars and rockets at Israel. No one was injured in the attacks those some buildings were damaged. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are jointly taking credit for the attacks.
The attacks began just before 6:00 AM when half a dozen mortars fell near a kibbutz in the Eshkol region.
Israel Channel 10 reports that the Hamas terrorists used a more advanced launching system that was able to launch a number of rockets simultaneously.
This initial attack killed some goats in a small zoo.
Residents remained in their shelters for hours, and stayed close by when they were allowed out.
in the following home video you can see and hear what the citizens of the South hear when the alarm goes off. You can hear an explosion in the background after the “red alert” goes off.
On Sunday, IDF targeted two Jihadists in Gaza who were planning a major attack over the Simchat Torah holiday.
The two were identified as Tlaath Hallil Muhammed Jerbi and Abdullah Mohammed Hassan Maqawi.
A serious attempt by Gaza terrorists to breach the Israeli border, and the launch of dozens of rockets and mortar shells on the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel on Sunday evening, has led to exchanges of fire on the Israeli border, the slaughter of 15 Egyptian soldiers by Gaza terrorists, and warnings to residents of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom to remain in shelters and lock their doors for safety reasons. Despite fear and concerns for security, a long-time activist for the western Negev region said the attacks come as “no surprise” to residents of the region.
On Sunday night, terrorists broke into an Egyptian military base and stole two armored troop carriers, using them to smash through Israel’s border with Gaza at approximately 8pm.
One jeep exploded as it rammed through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Israel, but the other made it through, with armed terrorists jumping out and firing at IDF troops. IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai told reporters that the IDF is combing the area to be sure no additional terrorists infiltrated the country, and ruled out any kidnappings of soldiers. According to a report in Al Arabiya, 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed during the theft, with several more wounded.
Egypt responded by launching F-16 attacks on targets in Rafiach (quite possibly in breach of the Camp David Accords), with President-elect Morsi calling for an emergency government meeting with the army.
Egypt has also closed the Rafiach crossing indefinitely.
Earlier in the day, exchanges of fire were reported across the border in the area, with at least 15 shells being launched from tanks on the Israeli side. Sources in Gaza said militants firing at Israeli soldiers were wounded in the exchange.
The Israel Air Force had conducted a surgical strike against a member of the Popular Resistance Committtees terror organization who was traveling on a motorcycle in the city of Rafiah. The terrorist, 19 year-old Eyad Nadi Okel, was eliminated, and another terrorist, 22 year-old Ahmed Sayid Ismayil, was wounded.
The IDF released a statement saying the operation was conducted in cooperation between the army and the Shin Bet intelligence services. Ismayil was accused of involvement in a June attack on the border which killed an Israeli citizen, and the pair was suspected to be planning another attack on Eilat.
While news of the rocket fire on the western Negev made the headlines on every Israeli news website, Director of the Sderot Media Center Noam Bedein said the attacks “were very much expected today” and came as “no surprise” to the residents of the Eshkol region.
IDF soldiers set up road blocks based on intelligence received about the terrorists’ plan to enter Israel in armored vehicles.
“There was a terrorist targeted today, and this is always the response in the past couple years,” Bedein said. “We had this a month ago – a target in Gaza, followed by 120 rockets and missiles from Hamas.” Bedein added that in that attack Hamas’s website stated that all the targets were military installations, when the terror organization was really aiming at civilian areas in the western Negev.
According to Bedein, 50% of the rockets which have been fired on Israel since Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 and mid-January 2009 have been fired at the Eshkol Regional Council, the area situated closest to the border with Gaza and containing the city of Sderot, a town which suffered greatly and publicly prior to Cast Lead. The second highest percentages have been lobbed at Ashkelon, one of Israel’s largest metropolises, housing over 113,000 Israeli residents as of 2009. Bedein numbered the rockets since the Cast Lead ceasefire on January 18, 2009 at 1604 – not including the rockets launched on Sunday.
And while some would tout the Iron Dome missile defense system as the answer to the worries of residents of Sderot, the measure is totally useless to defend the city. “The Iron Dome protects from a distance of at least 4.5 kilometers from the target. Anything within 4.5 kilometers of the Gaza border is therefore not protected – like Sderot and the western Negev,” Bedein said. “Around 45,000 Israelis cannot be protected by Iron Dome.”
So Sderot has become what Bedein calls the “bomb shelter capital of the world.” He says 6,000 units of bomb shelters have been attached to old apartment buildings, at a cost of NIS 500,000 million – just in Sderot. The tally for the entire western Negev, including new schools enforced against rockets is approximately 500 million dollars.
“Once the alarm goes off, you have just 15 seconds to run for your life,” said Bedein, who lived for 5 years in Sderot as part of his mission to raise awareness for the once beleaguered city.
Though the area has enjoyed a period of respite since Operation Cast Lead, which aimed to halt a nearly ceaseless barrage of Kassam rockets on the town, research done by the social work department at the Sapir Academic college suggests approximately 15,000 people from the Sderot area suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with an estimated 1000 receiving mental health treatment. “Today we actually went to the director of the mental health center in Sderot and she said it is the first time in a decade that they have cases of people being treated for schizophrenia. This is the step after PTSD, because they weren’t treated right the first time, so they are getting worse,” Bedein said. He said that Director Adrianna Katz explained that “It can be quiet for two weeks, and you need just one siren to go off and you go back to the first day you experienced a rocket exploding nearby. Even though people have their daily routine and summer vacation, we’re talking about years of rehabilitation of people in our region.”
With the attention of much of the world’s public and news media directed at the Olympics, there have been four rocket attacks on southern Israel last night, Saturday.
We’re much more highly motivated on this subject than most people, and therefore know more or less where to look to find reports about these firings. Most people don’t. They therefore have no idea that this happened and keeps happening more or less daily. How can people understand the defensive measures Israel’s military takes if basic information about ongoing constant terrorist attacks goes unreported in the news media?
Two Gazan rockets crashed and exploded in the Eshkol region on Friday. (Reminder that the precise location of rocket landings is generally held back in these reports. Knowing the outcome is usable military intelligence that no sane person on the Israeli side would want to share with the terrorists of Gaza.)
Then last night two more crashed into open fields in the vicinity of Sderot, a city – not a town, not a village – in southern Israel that has the misfortune of being located very close to the Gaza Strip. The alarms were sounded (we’re referring to the anti-missile Tzeva Adom warning system) causing the usual fear and anxiety in thousands of homes throughout southern Israel who somehow fail to get used to the indiscriminate firing of lethal weapons in their general direction. As a result, a woman of 29 suffered injury as she ran to a rocket shelter, and was hospitalized in Ashkelon [Ynet]. The Palestinian Arabs are saying that the terrorists are “a previously unknown militant group in Gaza called the Al-Furqan Brigades” and that they claimed responsibility in a statement.
Two more Qassam rockets fired from the northern part of the Hamas-infested Gaza Strip hit open fields in the Eshkol region again, last night [Ynet]. Fortunately no injuries, no property damage, and no consequences up until now (as far as we know) to the people who fired them. That might yet change.
Over 100 rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel this past week, with 65 of those rockets clobbering Israeli communities in the northwestern Negev in a single day, on Wednesday.
In the worst of the rocket escalations, a home in the Sdot Negev Regional Council was directly hit by a rocket on Wednesday, with the mother and her child home at the time. Miraculously, they were able to make it to the bomb shelter seconds before the rocket struck their home and were not injured. “My wife and son were saved by a miracle,” said the father of the family to Ma’ariv, who was at work during the attack.
Children on their way to their last day of school were also miraculously saved when they mounted a school bus, just minutes before a rocket struck across their bus stop on a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council.
“This has been a very stressful time for us,” said Ronit Minaker to Tazpit News Agency, a spokeswoman for the Eshkol Regional Council, which is comprised of 31 communities located along the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. “You hear the sounds of war everywhere and there is this feeling of constant pressure on your mind and in your body. You’re always watching yourself, thinking where you will take cover the next time the siren goes off,” Minaker explained.
“Not everyone here has a bomb shelter. The worst is for the families. There are parents who lay over their children to protect them when the siren sounds.”
Minaker points out that there are times when there is no Color Red siren—the warning sound system which allows people approximately 15 seconds to find cover–which means that Gaza rockets will strike without warning. “In one of the Eshkol communities this week, there fell a barrage of six rockets with no siren. It was mazal [luck] that none of those rockets directly hit a home. But countless people were left in shock, including several women,” said Minaker.
One Eshkol residents who is currently recovering from the shock of a sniper attack that took place last week, is Max Yadgar of Kibbutz Nir Oz.
Yadgar, a farmer, was on his tractor plowing fields about 400 meters from the Gaza border, when a Palestinian sniper opened fire on him Thursday, June 14.
In an exclusive interview, Yadgar described to Tazpit News Agency how the sniper shot at him above his head and right under his seat. Glass shattered everywhere leaving Yadgar with just a scratch on his face.
“I crawled down from the tractor and hid behind the big wheel for protection, waiting for 15 minutes until IDF troops came get me,” recalls Yadgar.
“It was a very scary experience and I’m still not completely past it. I took a few days off and time has been the best medicine so far. I went to a synagogue and prayed. All I have is a scratch on my face from this attack but inside I’m rattled.”
However, Yadgar says he will return to the fields next week, although he will not work in the same field where he was attacked. A husband and father of four children, Yadgar concludes that he will “plow the fields further away from the Gaza border for now.”
Located in the northwestern part of the Negev, the Eshkol Regional Council was established in 1951, and was later named after Israel’s third Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol in 1969. The communities of Eshkol serve as strategic outposts, supporting the IDF in the defense of Israel’s Southern Front during war. Made up of 14 kibbutzim, 15 moshavim and two residential communities, 12,500 Israelis call Eshkol their home. Today much of the region is engaged in industrial, agricultural and farming activity, producing 50 percent of Israel’s tomatoes and potatoes.
Many farmers like Yadgar have come under Palestinian sniper fire over the past few years. In 2008, the IDF asked farmers from Kibbutz Nir Oz to stop harvesting the potatoes during the day, and to instead conduct the harvest at night in order to lower the risk of sniper attacks.
Despite the challenging conditions, Minaker emphasizes that the people of Eshkol are strong and steadfast. “People aren’t leaving because of the situation, in fact more people are moving to Eshkol. There is a very strong sense of community and a supportive framework here,” she explains.