A long-range Grad-type Katyusha rocket landed in the schoolyard of a kindergarten in a northern Ashdod neighborhood at approximately 3:20 Monday afternoon -- but miraculously, only two people were lightly wounded, one by flying shrapnel. Thirty children are normally in the classroom during the day, when the missile struck, but due to Home Front Command instructions, the building was empty at the time.
Magen David Adom medics who raced to the scene said they treated a number of people who suffered from severe emotional trauma. Eyewitnesses described the explosion as "unusually loud."
At about 3:00 p.m., a short-range Kassam rocket exploded in the Eshkol region as well. No one was injured and no damage was reported.
Hamas and allied terrorist attacked southern Israel with close to 30 rockets since 7:00 a.m. Monday, appearing to focus primarily on the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.
At about 2:00 p.m., the Color Red incoming rocket alert siren wailed in Ashkelon, sending residents racing for shelters for what seemed to be the umpteenth time within a two-hour span. Officials said at least one long-range Grad-type Katyusha rocket was discovered a short time later, having landed in an open area. No injuries or damage was reported in that attack.
An earlier barrage was more dangerous, however. A Grad rocket slammed into an open area in Ashkelon at approximately 1:30 p.m. Monday and landed next to a single-family home. Initial reports by Magen David Adom medics racing to the scene said early reports indicated that at least two people were lightly injured by shrapnel and a number of people suffered severe emotional trauma.
A second Grad rocket exploded elsewhere in the city at about the same time as well, but there were no reports of injuries or damage in that attack. Within 15 minutes, another barrage struck Ashkelon; at least one Grad rocket landed in an open area in the city, according to city officials, but caused no injuries or damage.
In Be'er Sheva, the "capital of the Negev," a Grad rocket struck the city for the first time since last Friday and landed near an apartment building. According to initial reports, no one suffered physical injuries in the attack although there were a number of people who were treated for severe emotional trauma. Another rocket struck the ground in an open area on the outskirts of the city.
At least one and possibly two long-range rockets exploded between Ashdod and Ashkelon shortly before 12:00 noon. One landed in the Yavneh region, sending several people into emotional shock, but causing no physical injuries or damage.
At the same time, a barrage of shorter-range Kassam rockets was fired at the Gaza Belt city of Sderot. Three rockets slammed in the community, one exploding in the center of town in an area usually filled with people at midday. Although the rocket caused significant damage and a number of people suffered severe emotional trauma, there were no physical injuries in any of the attacks. The other two rockets landed in open areas.
Ashkelon was also hit by two Grad-type Katyusha rockets at about 10:30 a.m.
"Another miracle," said the announcer on Radio Darom (Radio of the South), as a listener described how one of the missiles landed right on the sidewalk of the main street in Ashkelon. "No one injured, and it landed right on Main Street. Unbelievable!" he exclaimed. The second missile exploded in an open area on the northern outskirts of the city. There were no reports of injuries in either attack.
Three rockets exploded at about the same time near Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi and Yavneh, all landing in open areas. A mortar shell was also fired at the Sha'ar HaNegev region. No injuries or damage were reported.
About half an hour earlier, a rocket landed for the first time in the Gush Shafir region, north of the Kiryat Malachi-Ashkelon area, near the community of Merkaz Shapira, according to Radio Darom.
Asher Abargil, head of the Regional Council of Gush Shafir, said the exact landing site had not yet been identified and there were no reports of injuries or damage. He advised residents to "calm down, drink some water, relax a little and follow the instructions of the Home Front Command."
Two Grad-type Katyusha rockets exploded barely five minutes prior to that attack, also in the area of Kiryat Malachi and Yavne. No one was hurt and no damage was reported.
A Kassam rocket exploded at a kibbutz near Sderot at 7 a.m., one other exploded in an open area near a Gaza Belt community and two short-range missiles landed in the Eshkol region. All of the rockets landed in open areas. The mood of the town is generally relaxed, and residents say they feel more reassured since the IDF intensified its counterterrorism campaign in Gaza.
Sunday night was quiet, with no rocket attacks reported.
Visiting Jewish community leaders from the United States who had arrived on a solidarity tour narrowly escaped injury during a Kassam rocket attack Sunday during a visit to Sderot.
Upon hearing the Color Red incoming missile alert siren, the leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations fled en masse to a fortified police building, which was struck by the rocket moments later.