Missile near Ashkelon
Missile near AshkelonIsrael News Photo: (Flash 90)

Gaza terrorists fired on several major Israeli cities on Tuesday afternoon in a continued effort to hit targets as far from Gaza as possible. Strikes were reported adjacent to Kiryat Malachi and Netivot. An additional strike was reported between the Bedouin city of Rahat and the city of Be'er Sheva, Israel's seventh largest city.

At least 16 rockets hit the city of Sderot on Tuesday, and a rocket also hit a town south of Ashkelon, damaging a soccer field. Reports of a direct strike on a kibbutz [cooperative community] dining hall in the western Negev could not immediately be confirmed.

Several people suffered shock in the Kiryat Malachi attack, but no physical injuries were reported. In Sderot, a man was lightly wounded when a rocket hit his house.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has declared a “special situation” in all areas located within 30 kilometers of Gaza. The move allows defense officials to cancel civilian events, close factories and schools, and more.

Schools were closed Tuesday in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ofakim, as well as other Gaza Belt communities. Each of the three cities suffered fatal or near-fatal attacks on Monday. Construction worker Hani Elmahadi was killed in Ashkelon, Irit Sheetrit was killed in Ashdod, and a man was seriously wounded in Ofakim.

Cities outside the expanded “special situation” zone have begun preparing for attack as well. Be'er Sheva city workers have begun preparing for the possibility of rocket attacks on the city, and Ben Gurion University has switched to its wartime procedures.

Even the city of Rehovot began preparing for possible attacks, despite being currently located beyond Hamas' range. Rehovot is located approximately 43 kilometers from Gaza, while the furthest range of the terrorist rockets has been roughly 41 kilometers. 

City officials have instructed residents to check the condition of their bomb shelters and to listen to all Homefront Command instructions. Next week, Homefront Command officers will visit Rehovot and check bomb shelters, train security workers on dealing with rocket attacks and check local communications systems.

The Homefront Command has begun broadcasting instructions in case of attack on Channel 33. The broadcasts include explanations of how to select the best form of shelter during an attack. Instructions are being broadcast in Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, English, Spanish and Amharic.