Eshkol official: ‘It’s Cast Lead all over again for us'

Palestinians report one killed in IAF strike in northern Gaza; Aharonovitch: There is no immunity for anyone in Gaza.

April 9, 2011 20:29
3 minute read.
Police sapper carries Grad rocket

Police sapper carries Grad rocket 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Police in the south said on Saturday evening that over 50 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since Saturday morning.

The central Negev region was hit with 28 rockets in total.

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Police bomb squad officers found 13 rockets in that region. A number of homes were damaged in the attacks.

The Lachish region, in the western Negev, was hit with 22 rockets. Police found four rockets during searches. The farming communities of the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regional councils have been subjected to continuous mortar and rocket attacks throughout the day.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening, Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said, “We’ve been under attack for three days.

The number of rockets we are dealing with is the same as during Operation Cast Lead.

The feeling is that we are in the midst of a real escalation.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is Cast Lead all over again.

We are in a [state of ] emergency, even though the state has not declared an official emergency. We’ve been running around all day to calm local residents,” Yalin added.

“Everyone here is working so that we can cope with the situation.”

Yalin said he had an “agreement” with the government, according to which, “they [the government] are responsible for everything that comes out of Gaza. We deal with whatever ends up here.”

The acting Southern District police head, Lt.-Cmdr. Kobi Cohen, held a special evaluation meeting on Saturday due to the escalating security situation.

The meeting concluded with a decision to raise the police’s level of alert to 3 – the second to highest level. Back up forces, including bomb squad officers and Border Police, have been sent to the south from other police districts.

Police will also maintain checkpoints and an increased presence into Sunday.

One of rockets that struck a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, late on Saturday afternoon, hit a main water pipe. Local officials at first feared disruptions to the water supply, but later reported that water was flowing to all homes.

The Eshkol Regional Council was pounded throughout the day and into the evening hours. One rocket fell in a community and caused damage to homes. Three people remained hospitalized at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon suffering from shock after experiencing rocket attacks. Six other shock victims were released to their homes.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch addressed the recent escalation in the South on Saturday during a tour of the western Negev, and issued a warning to Hamas, saying that there “is no immunity for anyone in Gaza.”

“They must know we will pursue them one by one until we find them. We will know how to reach them in their underground hideouts. The IDF has the tools and we will know how to use them,” Aharonovitch said.

The minister met with senior police officials, toured police checkpoints in the western Negev, and heard security evaluations.

Later, he arrived in Beersheba and visited the 16-year-old boy who was critically wounded by the anti-tank missile fired by Hamas that hit school bus on Thursday.

“Hamas’s conduct is barbaric.

Everyone knows that a yellow school bus is an internationally recognized symbol for a vehicle transporting children,” Aharonovitch said.

“Firing on it is a despicable crime and the crossing of a red line.”

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