A man was killed and four people were wounded when southern Israel was
bombarded with long-range Grad rockets fired by Islamic Jihad from Gaza on
The rocket casualty was later named as Moshe Ami, 56, of Ashkelon. Ami was on his way home to his family when the air raid siren went off. He left his vehicle and ran for cover, but was mortally injured by flying shrapnel from the rocket fired at a
residential neighborhood in Ashkelon. He was rushed to the Barzilai Medical
Center in the city, but doctors were unable to save his life. Ami was able to answer a call from his concerned wife and tell her that he had been injured before being evacuated to hospital.
chiefs searched for a way to contain the situation on Saturday, as the Air Force
went into action to strike terror cells preparing rockets for launch in northern
and southern Gaza.
IDF confirmed killing 10 Islamic Jihad members on Saturday. It struck four terror targets in Gaza between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday night. The targets included a terror cell in southern Gaza planning to fire a projectile, a terrorist planning a rocket strike, and two rocket launch sites in northern Gaza. An additional terrorist in southern Gaza planning a rocket attack was also struck from the air on Saturday night. Furthermore, a cell in northern Gaza was also hit by the Air Force.
school children will stay at home as classes in Ashdod, Beersheba and Kiryat
Malachi were canceled by local officials, and the IDF Home Front Command asked
people who live within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip to stay near structures
protected against rockets.
Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza explodes near Beersheba
Iron Dome battery moved south after Gaza-rocket attacks
On Saturday, 35 projectiles,
including Grads and mortar shells, were fired at southern communities, hitting
built-up areas in Ashdod, Ashkelon and regional councils across the region. A
number of the rockets caused extensive damages to buildings.
struck a rocket-launching cell in Rafah, in the southern Strip, following the
upsurge in attacks, reportedly killing two terrorists.
responsible for what takes place in Gaza,” the army said.
Ashdod bore the
brunt of the attacks, and was targeted by at least three Grad rockets. One
slammed into an empty school, and a second struck in the nearby Gan Yavne
Regional Council, moderately wounding a man who was searching for his
TV footage showed bloodstained pavement where the man had been
injured before running indoors and contacting paramedics.
A third rocket
slammed into a parking lot between two multi-story residential buildings in
Ashdod. It set several vehicles on fire and left behind extensive wreckage. The
flames were doused by Israel Fire and Rescue crews, who also broke into homes in
nearby buildings to rescue residents.
“This was a miracle, it could have been much worse,” Magen David Adom
director-general Eli Bin said.
“Ashdod is under attack, without a doubt,”
Mayor Yehiel Lari said.
A rocket fired at Ashkelon sent shrapnel flying
that moderately wounded a man.
He was taken by MDA paramedics to the
city’s Barzilai Medical Center. A second rocket fired at Ashkelon scored a
direct hit on a home, setting gas canisters on fire.
Fire crews doused
The wave of rockets came after the IDF, working with the Shin
Bet (Israel Security Agency), identified and struck an Islamic Jihad rocket cell
in Gaza earlier on Saturday, killing five terrorists, including senior Islamic
Jihad commander Ahmed Sheikh Khalil, who was responsible for the group’s
considerable rocket production facilities.
Army sources said the cell was
the same one that fired the unprovoked long-range Grad that struck near Rehovot
last week. That rocket was supposedly launched to mark the anniversary of the
1995 assassination in Malta of Islamic Jihad leader Fathi Shikaki, the first
person to publish a booklet that legitimized suicide in jihad.
was preparing to fire another rocket into Israel,” an IDF spokesman said. Other
reports added that the cell was targeted at an Islamic Jihad training camp. The
terrorist organization vowed a major response to the air strike.
Jihad’s propaganda wing released a video on the Internet on Saturday showing a
multi-rocket launcher mounted on a truck and firing several projectiles in
The video is part of a boast by the Iranian-backed group that
its rocket launching capabilities have improved over recent years.
group’s claim that the video was taken on Saturday in Gaza could not be
But the organization has been the recipient of large-scale
Iranian support, both military and financial.
Late Saturday night,
Islamic Jihad’s Quds Brigades said the first wave of rockets was its “initial
response” to the strike on its rocket cell, adding that “the enemy should expect
the worst in the coming hours,” Channel 10 reported.
leader in Syria, Ramadan Abdullah, recently attended a conference in Iran
calling for Israel’s destruction.
During the conference, Abdullah said
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei’s “plan is a road map to the
liberation of the occupied territories,” referring to the whole of
Islamic Jihad has long been Iran’s closest proxy in the
In the past, the organization’s leadership
described itself as “one of the many fruits on our leader [former Iranian
supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini’s tree.”
A spokesman for
Robert Serry, the UN’s special envoy for the Middle East peace process, said in
a statement, “The recent escalations are very worrying. It’s vital to deescalate
now, without any delay. We strongly appeal for calm and an end to violence and
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was receiving regular
briefings on the security situation, officials said.
Avigdor Lieberman, who was on a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday, warned
that “if the rocket fire isn’t halted, there will be serious consequences in the
Lieberman said that Israel hasn’t been insisting that its
security needs must be met in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians
without good reason.
“Just today we have seen why this is necessary,” he
“We are not seeking violence with the Palestinians and we do not
want to ‘heat up’ the situation, but we won’t suffer one rocket barrage after
another without a response. Therefore I hope that already tonight, the rocket
barrages will stop with the intervention of neighboring countries, the
international community and the Palestinian Authority,” he
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) visited Gan Yavne, where one
of the rockets stuck, on Saturday evening.
“I will support any action the
government chooses in order to stop the attacks,” she said. “Residents of the
South bravely deal with constant attacks, and we will all try to support
The rockets “remind everyone that the South is full of terrorist
extremists, whom Israel must weaken directly and by negotiating with moderates
who do not use violence,” Livni wrote on her Facebook page.
Hamas feels strong following the Schalit deal, we must be aggressive in order to
bring back Israel’s deterrence,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said. “We must make
the residents of the towns surrounding Gaza, and all of Israel’s citizens, feel
MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said, “After avoiding a
military attack on the heads of terrorist organizations and instead surrendering
to Hamas and freeing hundreds of murderers, we will now have to act.
excuse that Schalit will be hurt can no longer disguise the disgrace of our
capitulation,” Eldad said.
“Now Israel must stop reacting and start
Only methodically wiping out the heads of terrorist
organizations, especially [Hamas’s Ahmed] Jabari who held Schalit, will bring
back our deterrence that was worn out by the deal [for Schalit’s
Police have gone on the second highest level of alert, and
have called on members of the public to refrain from gathering at rocket impact
zones, to avoid additional injuries.