Daily Israel Report

Ashkelon Schools to Get Rocket Panic Button; PA Attacks Continue

The Home Front Command is allocating more than $100 million for the installation of a "panic button" system in pre-school nurseries and schools.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 8/20/2007, 10:18 PM

Schools in the coastal city of Ashkelon are slated to receive electronic systems that would quickly alert authorities in the event of a rocket attack. In the meantime, the battered western Negev continues to absorb enemy barrages.
One enemy rocket fell close to the strategic Ashkelon industrial area.

The Home Front Command is allocating more than $100 million for the installation of a "panic button" system in pre-school nurseries and schools to make it easier to alert authorities in the event of an emergency situation inside the classroom. A municipal "first response" room will immediately answer the call and provide instructions and pass information.

Oil and gas pipelines, and a giant electricity generating station are located in the port city, sparking concerns that Palestinian Authority terrorists are making a concerted effort to strike those targets.

On Sunday, one enemy rocket fell close to the strategic Ashkelon industrial area, while last month, a rocket hit a home in a community just south of Ashkelon. A baby was injured by shrapnel in that attack, while the child's mother and grandmother suffered shock.

More generally, in the last two weeks Arab terrorists have escalated rocket and mortar attacks on Jewish cities in the Negev. On Monday, PA attackers launched several rockets at Sderot and its environs.

One Kassam rocket fired by terrorists late Monday night landed in an uninhabited area in the western Negev. Earlier in the day, PA elements fired four Kassam rockets in two separate attacks. One rocket landed in an open area near the city of Sderot, while the second hit the farm owned by the family of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Two other rockets, fired successively, fell in uninhabited areas north of Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported in any of the barrages.

IDF intelligence officials warned that Gaza-based terrorists have developed or smuggled to their operatives rockets with a longer range than those currently in use. The more powerful rockets in Gaza include Katyushas such as those deployed by the Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.

In another PA attack, terrorists fired shots on Monday afternoon at the Jewish town of Maaleh Shomron, located in eastern Samaria. The shots originated from the Arab village of Azun, located just east of Kalkiliya. No one was hurt, but bullet holes were found in one of the Maaleh Shomron buildings. IDF soldiers searched the area looking for the assailants, but no arrests were noted.

Counter-Terror Measures Continue to Disrupt Enemy Efforts
Six Hamas terrorists, involved in the firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli towns near Gaza, were killed Monday in an IDF counter-terrorism operation. Ground forces fired on the terrorists' car as it approached a Hamas security post near the Al-Bureij village in the central Gaza Strip. One of those reported dead was the local Hamas commander, Mohammed Abu Arab.
One of those reported dead was the local Hamas commander.

In Shechem, IDF troops tracked down and surrounded a number of wanted PA terrorists on Monday. One person was apprehended in the operation. There were no reports of casualties. The latest arrest brought to 16 the number of wanted or suspected terrorists captured since Sunday night. The IDF's nightly missions to lay their hands on PA terrorists have led to about 300 arrests per month.

In addition, the IDF scored an indirect counter-terrorism victory when two Gaza militia gangs opened fire on one another, each suspecting the other of being Israelis. Three residents of El-Fokhari, southeast of Khan Yunis in Gaza, were injured in the exchange, sparked by rumors that IDF forces were operating in the area. Only after the injuries were sustained did the two PA gangs realize that no Israeli forces had entered the area and that they had shot at each other.