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Vilnai: Israel cannot remain silent in face of escalation
ByJPOST.COM STAFF
June 23, 2012 12:06
50-year-old Sderot resident suffers moderate-to-severe injuries; rocket hits Sderot school; over 20 rockets fired into southern Israel; Home Front defense minister: We hold Hamas responsible.
Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai

Vilnai 311. (photo credit:Yaakov Katz)

Israel cannot remain silent in the face of continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said Saturday morning.

Vilnai visited the afflicted areas of Sderot and Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council, as rockets continued to rain down in the region leaving one man moderately-to-severely injured Saturday morning in the Sderot area. Two other residents suffered shock in the Palestinian attack, and a factory sustained some damage.



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The injured man, approximately 50 years old, was rushed to Barzilai Medical Center after being struck by shrapnel in the neck and stomach. He was fully conscious.

The minister also paid a visit to the IDF's Gaza Division for an operational review of recent events. "We hold Hamas fully responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Belt," Vilani said during the visit. "Israel is working, and will continue to work with a heavy hand against those terrorists that want to escalate the situation in the region."

The minister stressed that, "the state attaches great importance to protecting the cities that lay within a radius of 4.5 to 7 km. of the Gaza Strip."

Palestinians have fired over twenty rockets from Gaza into southern Israel since midnight on Friday, police said. Fifteen of those landed in the Lachish region, and five in the Negev. One rocket hit and damaged a school in Sderot. No injuries were reported. The Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted five of the rockets. 11 rockets were fired toward the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, Channel 10 reported.

Meanwhile, the IDF denied a Palestinian reports that an IAF strike on Gaza had killed a four-year-old-boy and wounded seven others on Saturday. Quoting Gazan Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra, Palestinians news agency Ma'an reported that Israeli fire killed the boy in the Abasan neighborhood east of Khan Younis. The IDF denied any connection to the incident and stated that the IAF had not carried out any further strikes since the early morning.

In light of the recent wave of rockets, the IDF instructed residents in the area to stay within 15 seconds of protected spaces. In a conversation with Army Radio, Sderot Mayor David Buskila called on the government to return quiet to the region.

The violence all but erases diplomatic progress made in the form of an informal ceasefire brokered by Egypt on June 20, which brought two days of relative quiet to southern Israel.

Earlier Saturday morning, the Israel Air Force struck three Palestinian terror bases in the Gaza Strip in response to continued Palestinians rocket firing into Israel. Palestinian media reported that between 17 and 21 people were wounded in the strike - the third of its kind since Friday, which according to the reports have also resulted in the death of at least one terrorist.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report
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