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Arabs Continue to Bombard Gaza With Kassam Rockets and Shells

Close to ten mortar shells and 1-2 Kassam rockets have been fired at and exploded in Jewish towns in Gaza since last night – a follow-up to the eight shells that hit N'vei Dekalim on Friday.
First Publish: 12/14/2004, 9:40 AM / Last Update: 12/12/2004, 11:34 AM

No one was hurt today, though eight people were wounded on Friday, including one who was taken in serious condition to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva.

In the northern Gaza community of Nisanit, just six miles south of Ashkelon, a youth club sustained significant damage from a mortar shell blast – one of four shells that hit the town today. No children were in the building at the time. Shrapnel of a Kassam rocket hit a car in northern Gaza today, severely damaging it; the driver, head of security in his community, was miraculously unhurt.

In addition, a shell hit Gadid last night, as did two in Netzarim. This morning, residents of Ganei Tal were asked to remain in protected areas following the fall of one mortar shell in their town. Shortly afterwards, another blast rocked N'vei Dekalim. Yesterday, one shell hit Rafiach Yam.

Seven-year-old Nechemiah Kirzenshaft of N'vei Dekalim was in his room on Friday afternoon, and a visitor from Belgium – an 18-year-old yeshiva student who came to distribute Chanukah donuts to soldiers – was in the home's adjacent living room. The windows of both rooms were open in honor of the unseasonably warm temperatures. Suddenly, an Arab-fired mortar shell exploded atop a shed in the next-door home, and shrapnel flew at the Kirzenshaft home. One light piece penetrated the jacket of the student; he didn't even realize it until he began to feel faint, and a subsequent search produced the wound.

Seven-year-old Nechemiah, however, was hit more seriously, with a large piece shooting through the window into his chest-stomach area. Both of the wounded victims were rushed to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva. Nechemiah was operated on, and his condition is much improved.

Arutz-7's correspondent spoke with his sister today, and learned that her mother and another brother spent the Sabbath with Nechemiah in the hospital, while the rest of the family celebrated the miracle at home. "He suffered a direct hit, and is now fine," she said. "It's simply a miracle." She said that she has not seen Nechemiah yet, "except via the internet, on one of the Chabad/Lubavitch sites. Several Chabad people went to visit him last night..."

In response to a request to speak with her father, she said, "He's with the soldiers, spreading Chanukah cheer – donuts, candles, and the like. Business as usual!"

The army might finally be beginning to take action. In the army's first substantial response to the mortar shell bombardments in several weeks, IDF troops approached Khan Yunis on Friday, a city of 250,000 that borders most of the Jewish towns in Gush Katif. The troops limited their actions, however, to taking up positions around the city and shooting into areas from where mortars were fired.

"We will not accept this massive shelling, just as we do not accept the firing of Kassam rockets near Sderot," army sources said Saturday. The declaration came after weeks of protests from Gush Katif residents. The residents decried the army's limited response to the daily shelling of Gaza's Jewish communities - in contrast with the swift response to rockets fired on Sderot, a city within Israel's pre-1967 borders.

Following the Friday attack, Nechemiah's father Yigal decried the lack of IDF response to the constant barrage of mortar shells. "Jewish children are being abandoned because the army is afraid to act," he said, echoing the complaints of the entire Gush Katif community.

Despite the army's reaction on Friday, or possibly because of its limited nature, angry residents are ominously promising to "step up our fight against the incessant shellings on our town." They did not elaborate, but said that their reaction would "force the responsible elements to take action to immediately end the situation in which the blood of soldiers and residents is worthless."