Civilian areas in southern Israel were heavily shelled by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza on Saturday morning, when more than 50 mortars were fired at the regional councils of Sha'ar Hanegev, Eshkol and Sdot Hanegev.
Two Israelis sustained light injuries by shrapnel and were transferred to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.RELATED:
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Hamas's armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for a dozen of the mortars fired.
The IDF responded to the barrage of mortars with tank shells and
helicopter attacks. Six Palestinians were reportedly injured in the strikes.
Following the attacks, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed diplomats in New York to lodge a complaint with the United Nations
over the mortar barrage.
One building sustained extensive damage in the Eshkol Regional Council
although a majority of the projectiles landed in open areas, local
The regional council is inhabited predominantly by farmers, and has been the target of Palestinian shelling for several years.
Eyal Brandeis, a kibbutz secretary in the Eshkol Regional Council, and the head of a local emergency response team, told The Jerusalem Post
that the injured were a married couple who had been attempting to seek
cover in a safe zone - a room reinforced with concrete to protect from
"It happened just as they entered the room. The couple were responding
to instructions we sent out on cell phone text messages calling on all
residents to seek shelter. They ran to the room, and shrapnel went
through the window just before they could close it," Brandeis said.
The man suffered shrapnel injuries to his back, while the woman was
injured in her hand, Brandeis added. The couple received medical
attention on the spot before being evacuated by Magen David Adom
paramedics to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva for further
"We are used to sporadic rocket and mortar fire, but this was not the
daily show we are used to," Brandais said, referring to the high number
of mortars fired at his community on Saturday. "Luckily, we escaped with
few injuries. We'll have to get through this," he added.
Southern communities cannot be alerted to mortars by the Color Red
rocket alert system and have developed their own cell phone text
messaging alert system. "When we heard the high number of explosions
across the area, we knew this was not an ordinary attack," he said.
Ronit Minaker, a spokeswoman for the Eshkol Regional Council, said
residents had been ordered to stay indoors for the duration of the
morning. "People were compliant with the safety instructions," she said.
"We're not used to this kind of massive fire. But we have experienced it before, and we know how to respond," Minaker added.
"Our residents expect the government to do everything it can to end
this. They also expect the government to construct safe rooms in the
many communities that still lack them," she said.
Local authorities said on Saturday that they were in the midst of a
legal campaign aimed at forcing the government to deploy the Iron Dome
anti-rocket and anti-mortar shield.
Officials are petitioning the Supreme Court to order the state to deploy
the shield to protect communities situated at least 4.5 kilometers away
from the border and beyond. The system is unable to neutralize
projectiles fired at communities up to 4.5 kilometers from the border.
The Supreme Court has ordered the state to reply to the petition within 30 days.