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3 Rocket Attacks Awaken Southern Israelis Overnight

For the fifth time in as many days, Gaza terrorists fire rockets at southern Israeli residents. And Israel retaliates.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/17/2011, 2:45 PM / Last Update: 7/17/2011, 2:57 PM

Flash 90

For the fifth time in less than a week, rocket fire shook the night for residents of Israel's western Negev and southern coastal region.

Three short-range Kassam rockets were fired by terrorists from Gaza, the first exploding at approximately 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning in the Ashkelon Coast regional council district.  Hours later, residents in the Sha'ar HaNegev regional council district were similarly awakened by two more rocket attacks.

The Color Red incoming rocket alert system warned residents to race to safe rooms or other shelter – regardless of age or the hour. But in at least one instance, residents did not even get the 15-second warning provided by the alert; the Color Red system failed to activate for an unknown reason. No one was physically injured by the rockets, which all exploded in open areas, according to security officials.

On Friday night Gaza terrorists fired a Kassam rocket at the Eshkol regional council district. That missile also exploded in an open area, causing no physical injuries or damage as well.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz met Friday earlier in the day with top defense personnel to assess the situation following four straight days of rocket attacks.

In the wee hours before dawn on Saturday, IDF soldiers out on a retaliatory attack spotted a terrorist cell preparing to launch another rocket attack east of Gaza city. The troops eliminated at least one of the armed terrorists.

Since the last ceasefire of January 18, 2009, 791 rockets have been launched against the residents of southern Israel from Gaza. At least 19 rocket and mortar shells have exploded in southern Israel in the past two and a half weeks, a number of which have caused property damage. One soldier was wounded by a roadside bomb as well.

IDF Retaliates, 7 Injured
The Israel Air Force also immediately retaliated in response to the Saturday night attacks, according to Palestinian Authority sources in Gaza.

IAF pilots aimed air strikes at targets south of the northern town of Beit Hanoun following the terrorist rocket attacks, according to the PA source. Medical personnel in Gaza claimed that seven people were injured in the attack.

The IDF spokesperson's office denied the report. Nevertheless, the IDF maintains the Hamas is solely responsible for any terrorist incident, and has said it will not hesitate to use harsh measures against the terrorist group if it fails to act against the rocket fire.