Second Evening in a Row: Woman Seriously Hurt by Kassam

Once again, a woman in Sderot is seriously hurt in a Kassam barrage by a rocket that hit her home. Fifteen rockets were fired throughout Wednesday.

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Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel,

Unfinished bomb shelter near school in Sderot
Unfinished bomb shelter near school in Sderot

On Tuesday, nearly 30 rockets hit Sderot and environs - and on Wednesday, another 15.  On both days, a woman was seriously wounded when a rocket hit her home.  The condition of the woman hit on Tuesday has improved, but the second woman is listed in moderate-to-serious condition.

Hundreds of Sderot residents - pregnant and nursing women, and Ethiopian immigrants whose homes are not reinforced - were evacuated from the city on Wednesday.  Though buses were in short supply because of the Jerusalem Day celebrations, Russian-Israeli business tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak sent eight buses to Sderot to help out in the evacuation.  Many of the residents were taken to Kibbutz Tzbua near Jerusalem.

Israelis who managed to get to sleep in the western Negev Tuesday night were awakened by the sounds of rocket explosions on Wednesday morning. Dozens of civilians were wounded in Sderot and nearby communities in the course of the night. Officials have placed the community on high alert. School was cancelled for the day, and residents were told to monitor news reports for breaking security developments.

By midday Wednesday, Arabs in northern Gaza had fired nine rockets at Israel.  One of the Kassam rockets fell short and landed in Gaza.  One of the early-morning missiles scored a direct hit on the house next door to the Sderot home of Defense Minister Amir Peretz. A second one landed in the basketball court of a kibbutz near Ashkelon, while the rest landed in open areas near Sderot and the coastal city. No injuries were reported in these attacks, though a fire resulted from one.

Terrorists fired nearly 30 rockets at Sderot and nearby communities on Tuesday, with more than a dozen fired Tuesday night. At least 26 Israelis were wounded in the attacks and six of the victims remained hospitalized at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon Wednesday morning. One of the victims, a woman who was critically injured when a rocket slammed into her home, is now listed in fair condition, as is her son who was with her when the house was hit. Four others, including a pregnant woman, are listed in good condition. Most of the others were treated for shock and trauma reactions, and were released Tuesday evening.

Israel Air force helicopters were ordered to northern Gaza where they responded to the rocket attacks by firing on empty fields - though later, a more telling blow was launched, killing four Hamas terrorists.  Shooting at the empty areas, Peretz explained, is designed to prevent terrorists from using the fields to launch rockets. This policy of launching counter fire into the Gaza sands has long been practiced by the IDF, but, as noted by many experts, has not been proven effective.

No IDF ground operations have been approved, despite the onslaught of rockets and mortar shells fired at Israeli communities. In the emergency meeting held by the defense minister Tuesday night, however, it was decided to allow the IDF to resume targeted assassinations and other unspecified military operations. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold a security consultation Wednesday afternoon.

The edge of Sderot is located less than a kilometer from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, making it an easy, inviting target for the attackers to launch the cheap, easily-made Kassams. Sderot is not alone in its vulnerability, however; the range of the Kassams has been vastly improved in several newer models of the rocket, not to mention the much longer range of Katyusha rockets recently acquired by Gaza terrorists.

Northern Israel was peppered with Katyusha fire in the last summer’s Second Lebanon War with Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorists – who have since made a concerted effort to share their largesse with Hamas terrorists on the southern front.

Goading Israeli Incursion Might End Internal Warfare
Political analysts said Tuesday that the large-scale attack on Israel is a Hamas attempt to distract Gaza residents from the internal violence that is wracking the Palestinian Authority there.

Much of the bloodshed is coming from Hamas, which came into power and has ruled the PA government since the beginning of last year. At least six Gaza residents were killed early Wednesday when Hamas terrorists attacked the house of a senior Fatah official, shooting his guards and burning the building. In the past three days at least 23 Arabs, mostly terror gang members, have been killed.

Gaza terrorists also fired on Egyptian mediators who were in the area trying to negotiate an end to the militia war. No one was injured in the sniper fire on the delegation.

In a bid to swing the focus of the attacks back to Israel, the Hamas terror organization has posted a statement on its website claiming, "These operations are part of the 'Faithfulness of the Free' campaign against the occupation assault on the Gaza Strip and the continued targeting of innocent Palestinian civilians and their installations in the West Bank."  The reference to an assault on Gaza is connected with the deaths of nine terrorists who were killed during the latest round of internecine warfare now taking place in the PA-controlled areas.

Defense Minister Peretz told reporters Wednesday morning while observing an IDF military exercise in the north, "Israel has no intention of intervening with the internal clashes in Gaza, but we will not tolerate having these clashes impact the security of Israeli residents; these events will reap a suitable response."