Woman Killed in Sderot Rocket Attack

A woman was killed and a man lost his legs when two Kassam rockets landed in downtown Sderot. The Islamic Jihad and Iz A-Din El-Kassam terrorists claimed credit.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 09:35

The rockets fell not far from the house of former Sderot Mayor Amir Peretz, Israel's Defense Minister.

Fatima Slutzker, 57, who was killed in the attack, and Maor (ben Dorit) Peretz, 24-year-old guard assigned to protect Peretz's house, were hit by the rockets' wildly-scattered deadly shrapnel. Both were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where the woman died, leaving behind her husband and two sons. Peretz had both of his legs amputated. Six other people were treated for light injuries. Close to ten Kassams were fired at Sderot today.

Four other rockets were fired at the western Negev this morning (Wednesday), two volleys were fired into downtown Sderot last night, and yet another rocket landed near a children's nursery in a nearby kibbutz yesterday morning.

"People went into panic and began yelling when they heard the boom this morning," one eyewitness said.

Another resident told Arutz-7 that it is becoming impossible for many people to continue living in the city in the face of such fears and uncertainty.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who has often demanded a stronger military response from the government, said this morning, "We won't say anything now, we will only strengthen the residents and continue to be strong. When blood is spilled, we will respect the army and everyone else. What we have to say, we'll say later."

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union), commenting on the government's refusal to send in massive forces to enter Gaza, said bitterly, "Only a rocket on Tel Aviv will cause [Prime Minister] Olmert to take over Gaza."

Drive to Protect Yeshiva
The nearby Hesder Yeshiva of Sderot, which suffered a direct hit on its grounds just several days ago - no one was hurt - has over 400 students studying and living in buildings that are not protected against rockets. The yeshiva has two campuses; 400 students are enrolled in the main yeshiva, including 100 currently in the army, while another 120 are studying in what is known as the shluchah (offshoot). The dorms on both campuses are not protected, such that the students spend the night vulnerable to rocket attacks, while in the shluchah, even the study hall is not protected.

The government has promised that all the elementary schools in Sderot will be reinforced, but has not yet fulfilled this goal. The yeshiva, therefore, has been told that its reinforcement against rockets is not the highest priority, and that "the students are older and can run in the event of a Red Color early-warning rocket alert."

On days like today, however, that gives them about four seconds to run to a shelter. Michael Siman-Tov, an administrative assistant at the yeshiva, told Arutz-7, "There are usually 15 seconds between the time the Red Color alert sounds and the actual crash. Today, however, probably because of the inclement weather and fog, there were only about four seconds... It is really frightening. I wasn't really scared until last week, when the yeshiva was hit directly. But now, it's like a real war zone, with rockets coming down all over. I left town last night just after running to the shelter from a Kassam, and when I came back, I saw again people running towards the shelter. It's insane."

"I was at my friend's house this morning," Michael said, "and the Red Color sounded, and his wife was crying and worrying about her children... It's terrible. And even worse is this silence - the press only talks about it when someone is killed like today, and the government is quiet. It’s a terrible feeling of being betrayed."

MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima), who co-sponsored a request for an urgent Knesset debate regarding the protection of children's institutions in Sderot - the discussion will be held this afternoon - explained to Arutz-7 the current situation:
"After a long struggle in the Knesset, we finally obtained the full budget for protection for the nurseries and kindergartens, and that is nearly completed. As far as schools go, we have the budget, but the reinforcement work has not been completed, and one school is standing empty because of that. In other schools, only some of the classrooms have been protected, with the idea being that the children in other classes can run to the protected rooms if necessary.

"However, in practice what happens is that the school day has been cut down, because apparently the security people here have told the schools to keep the children in protected rooms as much as possible. They therefore spend less time in school, because there are not enough reinforced classrooms. So it turns out that not only is their education suffering, they also spend less time in school and more time in unprotected areas."

The Education Ministry announced that it would send psychologists to Sderot schools.


Ironically, the Supreme Court heard a petition today by Sderot residents demanding that all schools be reinforced against attacks. The Court instructed the State explain why it has not completed this mission.

Today's victim was Israel's seventh direct victim of a Kassam rocket, among the nearly 1,700 that have been fired since the withdrawal from Gaza. Mordechai Yosifov, 49, and Afik Zahavi, a 3.5 year old on his way to nursery, were killed in June 2004. Three months later, two young cousins - Dorit Aniso, 2, and Yuval Abebeh, 4 - were killed just before the onset of the Sukkot holiday. Four months later, Ella Abukasis, 17, was killed by a Kassam rocket as she was walking home; she jumped to protect her brother when the Red Dawn rocket warning alert sounded. In July 2005, Dana Gelkowitz, 22, was killed in a Kassam attack at Netiv HaAsarah - the only non-Sderot Kassam casualty among Israelis.

In addition, three foreign workers were killed in a Kassam attack in Gush Katif in 2005, and two Bedouin were killed when they moved a previously-unexploded Kassam in a field.




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