Daily Israel Report

Rocket Attacks Prompt Southern Israeli Cities to Cancel School

Weekend rocket attacks in southern Israel prompted the cities of Be'er Sheva and Ashdod to cancel school for thousands of children.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 9/9/2012, 8:38 AM / Last Update: 9/9/2012, 9:11 AM

Damage to house in Netivot
Damage to house in Netivot
Israel news photo: IDF

Tens of thousands of students sat home on Sunday again, due to missile attacks on southern Israel, fired by Palestinian Authority terrorists from Gaza.

Among the cities canceling classes were the port city of Ashdod, and the “capital of the Negev,” the city of Be'er Sheva, where rocket attacks over the weekend prompted officials to decide the children in their municipalities were "better safe than sorry" in cities where most schools did not contain full-scale shelters.

In the periphery, however, time sometimes moves more slowly, and not everyone had heard about the school cancellations by the time commuters were boarding buses. One of the students already on her way was Zahava J., who had raced to get to her bus stop on time, thinking she had missed the commuter van from Arad.

But just as she boarded the bus to the girls' high school she attends in Be'er Sheva, a teacher called to let her know that school had just been canceled. Since most of the other students on the route also were unlikely to have heard the news, Zahava, the driver and two other girls drove to at least two other stops and told several other students.

"We weren't scared, but we were certainly concerned for the other students,” she told Arutz Sheva. “I have been calling friends at their homes to see if they're all right... but one of my friends I couldn't reach. I hope she's okay.” Within minutes, the young Arad students learned the wail of the Color Red rocket alert siren had split the silence Saturday night in both Be'er Sheva and Ashdod, awakening small children and sending families racing for shelter.

A missile also hit the small town of Netivot, badly damaging two houses, but no one was physically wounded in the attack. Miraculously, one of the residents escaped injury by seeking shelter in the bathroom. "I was sleeping in bed when the alarm sounded," said Pini Gabbai, who lived in the house, located in the center of the city. "I got up quickly, and the only thing I could do was run through the hallway to the bathroom and hide there. Suddenly I heard a very powerful explosion, and when I opened the door all I could do was climb out of the ruins of my house," he told the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Acharonot.  The roof tiles were shattered and the house was almost completely destroyed, he added.  A number of people suffered from trauma and shock.

Just as students would have been starting out on their way to schools along the Ashkelon Coast and were heading off to school in the Eshkol Regional Council district, they were again diverted to shelters by the Color Red rocket alert siren. Two more rocket attacks were launched at southern Israel, aiming straight at civilian towns, just as children and their parents were starting their day at school and work.

No one was physically injured in either attack, officials said, although  a number of people were traumatized, and those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have had symptoms triggered by the rocket fire.