Friday, March 14, 2014

Update from the South of Israel - Rockets Fired from Gaza

Our Israel office reports that Wednesday night, southern Israel suffered its heaviest barrage of rockets in over two years. Over ninety rockets were fired from Gaza and over fifty landed in Israeli territory, with eight rockets reported landing in urban areas, including one in the center of Sderot and three intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

Federation has been in contact with our partner region, Sha'ar HaNegev, which is situated mere kilometers away from the Gaza strip.  Mayor and Federation friend Alon Schuster reports there has been no damage, nor injuries from the attacks, but is meeting with IDF officials and preparing shelters in case of escalation. 

The code red siren sounded out many times through the night, calling citizens to their shelters. There have been no physical injuries reported although many are being treated for severe shock. One Sderot resident said, “A Kassam [rocket] fell next to my house, right on the sidewalk. Luckily there were no casualties.” Ashkelon and Ashdod have been hit particularly hard as well as Sderot, Netivot and other southern cities.

Photo credit: Haaretz
Although school opened on Thursday morning, many speedily closed and sent pupils home as rockets continued to fall. The huge number of rockets are being shot from Gaza where the Israel Air Force has already begun retaliating by targeting terrorist launch pads and ammunition stores. Twenty nine weapons caches and terrorist hubs have been hit by Israeli forces in direct response to the violence since last night.

The Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attacks, threatening that "You haven't yet seen the extent of our capabilities." Netanyahu said that Israel would not stand for attacks during the upcoming Purim festival. "I want to make it clear," he said, "we will hit hard at those who try to destroy our Purim celebrations."

This rocket fire comes as UK Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting Israel to discuss peace initiatives in the region and follows the Israeli strike against three militants who fired a mortar at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon.

We will continue to monitor the situation it develops.


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