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      Five More Kassam Rockets Blast Israel

      Five rockets have hit the western Negev and north-of-Gaza areas this morning, and one was fired last night. They were launched from the former Jewish communities of Dugit and Elei Sinai.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 2/23/2006, 10:57 AM / Last Update: 2/23/2006, 12:52 PM

      Two of the rockets hit the areas just south of Carmiya and Zikim, where expelled residents of Gush Katif are housed. No injuries or damage were reported.

      "Who could have thought just a short time ago that Arab rockets would be fired from Dugit and Elei Sinai at the Jews from Gush Katif who had been forced to find refuge near Ashkelon?" asked Bat-Sheva S. of Carmiya, formerly of Netzer Hazani, with bitterness. "It's like a nightmare."

      After a Palestinian-fired Kassam rocket seriously wounded a seven-month-old baby in Carmiya a month ago, some of the families living there moved out. They relocated back to the Kfar HaNofesh hotel in Ashkelon, where they had been housed immediately after the expulsion. They are now demanding that the government provide them with a safer place to live.

      Bat-Sheva, however, said, "I'm one of those who didn't go, because it's just as scary there, and why would I want to be in a tiny little hotel room?"

      She explained that despite the constant Kassams in her area - "every day this week at around 6-6:15 AM, we have our daily Kassam rocket" - she has no reason to leave. "After all, we know that the Rotenberg Power Station is within range of the rockets, and that's just about a half-kilometer north of us, and Kfar HaNofesh is just another kilometer and a half north of that. We're all in the same boat!"

      Over 200 Kassams have been fired at Israel from Gaza so far this month - more than double the total in January and more than three times the amount in December. Israel Radio's Nissim Keinan reported in the name of "defense sources" that while the rockets hitting Israel have remained within a 9-kilometer range, their accuracy and quality have improved.

      Keinan further reported that the IDF response of firing artillery at empty fields is believed to have failed. Israel has thus far fired some 1,600 shells, IMRA.org.il reports, at a total cost of NIS 6.4 million.

      The IDF Spokesman's office informed Arutz-7 that several rockets launchings were identified this morning, but no precise landings. Asked about the IDF's planned military response, the spokesperson said the army does not divulge its operational plans, but that consultations are constantly ongoing. IDF artillery did fire at northern Gaza today, although at least one shell landed near the Israeli community of Netiv HaAsarah.

      Arutz-7 also contacted the Defense Ministry to ask about plans to fortify or protect schools and buildings in the rocket-vulnerable areas. The Defense Ministry spokesman's office said that the IDF was the proper address for queries of this nature. Dutifully turning to the IDF, Arutz-7 is now awaiting a response.

      Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, at a lecture he delivered this week, said, "We can assume that the Palestinians will try to improve their Kassam-firing capabilities, and that the Kassams will be more precise, deadly and long-range, and will reach Ashkelon and perhaps beyond. Hamas will attempt to bring in personal rocket launchers and more deadly anti-tank rockets, as well as more and better more explosives and better rocket launchers than what they have now. If the Egyptians don't work harder along the Philadelphi Route border [between Gaza and Eypt], Gaza will continue to receive combat arms."

      Yaalon said that Israel's military response must be stronger:
      "We must not allow ourselves to get used to a routine of Kassam rockets at Sderot, Carmiya or Ashkelon."