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Katyusha Hits Netivot, 11 Kilometers from Gaza

For the first time, a Katyusha rocket fired from Gaza exploded in Netivot this morning.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/7/2007, 10:30 AM

Arab terrorists in Gaza fired a Grad Katyusha rocket - more powerful and of longer range than the conventional Kassams - at Israeli homes in Netivot Sunday morning, causing no injuries or damage. IDF sources expressed concern, saying the firing of a Grad rocket was an "unusual" occurrence.

Katyushas have been fired into southern Israel twice before. Such rockets have about double the range and payload of a Kassam rocket, which Gaza terrorists have fired thousands of times into nearby Sderot over the past six years. Netivot is 11 kilometers east of Gaza, while Sderot, further north, is less than one kilometer from Gaza.

When Gershon Gutta of Netivot heard the whistle of the approaching rocket and the explosion, he gathered his family into a safe corner of his home.

Gershon said: "If something like this would happen in the USA, they would eliminate the threat. The government of Israel simply does not care about its citizens. This hurts me to say this, but the government belittles the lives of its citizens.  The government cares more about the Palestinian enemy than its own citizens. The government must go into Gaza and stop the rockets, period."

Netivot has been hit by Kassam rockets twice in the past.  In two separate incidents in July 2006, Arabs fired a Kassam near the gravesite of the Baba Sali, and another that caused damage to a building in the city.

Last December, IDF officials said they were expecting the effective range of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to triple in the near future. The Home Front Command began drafting a plan to expand the protection zone around Gaza to a radius of 20 kilometers, instead of 7, including Ashkelon, Ofakim and Netivot in the new danger zone.

In other attacks Sunday morning, Gaza Arabs fired eight mortar shells at Kerem Shalom, near southern Gaza.  One of the shells hit a home, causing damage but no injuries.

Over the Sabbath, terrorists in Gaza fired close to 30 rockets and shells at Israel, including four Kassams and an anti-tank shell against an IDF force.  However, only one of the Kassams landed in Israel, as did 10 mortar shells; no injuries or damages were caused.