First Gaza Rocket Reaches Merchavim Area

Terrorist rockets reached new distances Monday night when a rocket exploded 12 km. away from Gaza.

Gil Ronen ,

Katyusha launch.
Katyusha launch.

The enemy in Gaza increased the range of rockets it fires at Israel, setting a new milestone Monday night. For the first time since the "Kassam" rocket fire started seven years ago, a rocket has exploded within the area of jurisdiction of the Merchavim Regional Council, at a point 12 km. (7.5 miles) away from the Gaza border.

No one was hurt and no damage was caused. The rocket's precise point of explosion has not been found yet, but it was reported to be within Merchavim's jurisdiction. The Merchavim area is described as a quiet agricultural region, which has enjoyed the quiet life for decades.

Gaza and adjoining regional councils.

The adjoining Eshkol Regional Council, which borders directly on Gaza, experiences rocket and mortar fire daily. The Eshkol Council Head, Chaim Yelin, said Monday that the attack on Merchavim was no fluke, but rather "a Palestinian signal that continued pressure on them will lead to an enlargement of their range of fire."

In October 2007, enemy terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket into Netivot, which neighbors Merchavim and is located 11 km. from Gaza.

The rocket turned out to be a Russian "Grad" Katyusha rocket - more powerful and of longer range than the Gaza-manufactured Kassams. It caused no injuries or damage, but IDF sources expressed concern at the time, saying the firing of a Grad rocket was an "unusual" occurrence.

Katyushas had been fired into southern Israel twice before. Such rockets have about double the range and payload of a Kassam rocket, which Gaza terrorists have fired thousands of times into nearby Sderot over the past six years. Sderot, further north, is less than one kilometer from Gaza.

Unsuccessful Court Session
About 15 business owners from the shell-shocked town of Sderot holed up in the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem on Sunday, following a High Court session that did not proceed in the way they had hoped. The businessmen had awaited a court decision on petitions to compensate them for financial damage caused by the Kassam attacks on Sderot.

Just before the judges gave their decision, the businessmen – who anticipated an unsatisfactory outcome - began shouting in the courtroom. Judge Elyakim Rubinstein tried unsuccessfully to calm them down, but the judges eventually left the courtroom without handing down a decision.

The businessmen eventually agreed to leave the court, but not before two women had fainted in the commotion.